Hebrews 4 was my scheduled New Testament reading for today, a chapter that focuses on entering God’s rest. Rest is a treasured truth for me right now, as I deal with a painful mouth ulcer that is not healing as I’ve hoped it will. I need to experience God’s rest, so that I don’t end up trying to handle this problem in my own strength.
Remember, biblical chapter numbers were not in the original text. So when a chapter begins with the word “Therefore” you need to look back to the previous chapter to see what it was “there-for.”
Context is another important key to understanding the meaning of a passage. The following verses will make more sense if before reading them you read Hebrews 3:7-19 and Hebrews 4.
These verses help us understand God’s Rest:
“And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:1-2; 9-11 ESV
“Therefore” in Hebrews 4:1 refers back to the text on entering rest in Hebrews 3:7-19. I thought verses 18-19 summed up the message of the entire section. To enter God’s rest, faith is the key. But unbelief and disobedience are closely connected. Disobedience is the Greek word apeitheia, which literally means “the condition of being unpersuadable.”
To be unpersuadable is to obstinately reject the will of God. This is caused by unbelief, and the effect of unbelief is disobedience. Therefore, because of this cause and effect relationship, stubbornly being unpersuadable is the root of both of these decisions. I hope you will read the following affirmation aloud, as an expression of your submission to the will of God for your life.
When God speaks, I will not stubbornly refuse to be persuaded of His message. I will respond with both faith and obedience. When I do this, God has promised I will by faith enter His Sabbath rest, resting from my own works and resting in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way, I will be led and empowered to accomplish God’s will for my life.
My New Testament Bible reading this morning was Philippians 2. This is a chapter I’ve studied many times, but as I was reading it this morning, verses 12-13 stood out to me. What exactly does it mean to “work out your own salvation?” So I did some studying to make sure I understood the true meaning of these verses.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
First, I looked up the Greek word for “work out” using the Blue Letter Bible, and I learned it means “to do that from which something results.” Further research gave me this meaning: “to carry out to its full perfection.” This obviously does not refer to earning our salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that we were saved by grace through faith, no works on our part are involved.
So what exactly does it mean work out your own salvation? To answer this question, we need to look at the tenses of salvation. Salvation has three tenses: past, present, and future.
PAST SALVATION is also known as JUSTIFICATION. If you are a Christians, this means that all of your sins have been forgiven by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This past tense of salvation applies to everyone who has come to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and is “by grace through faith“. No matter how many good works we do, we cannot earn this stage of salvation. It is a free gift of grace. We have been delivered from both slavery to sin and its PENALTY.
PRESENT SALVATION is the tense of salvation described in Philippians 2:12-13. Basically, it is DELIVERANCE from the POWER of sin, in which we have a part. This stage is also known as SANCTIFICATION. I’ll go into more detail about this in a minute.
FUTURE SALVATION is also known as GLORIFICATION. It happens when we see Jesus face-to-face, and we receive our new bodies that will be FREE FROM ALL OF SIN’S CORRUPTION. In Romans 8:23 Paul calls this the “redemption of the body.”
Philippians 2:12-13 is about the stage of salvation in which you are currently living, if you are a genuine Christian. And these verses give us an essential key to how we are changed into the image of Christ. PRESENT SALVATION or SANCTIFICATION includes more than a mere moral change of character, brought about by learning the truth of God’s Word. The words “work out” are important. We can only “workout” what Christ has already put within. We have a part in this second stage of salvation, but Scripture says it is primarily a work of the Holy Spirit.
“And such were some of you (referring to the unrighteous, see verses 10-11). But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
SANCTIFICATION is the stage of salvation in which we have HUMANRESPONSIBILITY, combined with DIVINE RESOURCES. The Holy Spirit Who lives within us works in our will, to bring each of us to a place of surrender to the will of God. Then He gives us the capability to do what He has called us to do; i.e., to “work out” what He has “workedin.”
There was two main areas included in this stage of salvation: (1) Being conformed to the image of Christ (see Romans 8:29), and (2) Completing the good work that God planned for us even before we were born (see Ephesians 2:10).
I want to close with a unique illustration on which makes it clear that this process of sanctification is Spirit-empowered and also requires our obedience to the teaching and leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is from one of my favorite resources for quotes or in-depth study of Scripture verses or passages, https://www.preceptaustin.org/observation
“There are some Christians whose lives are like a parked (or stalled) car – if God wants them to move down the road of life, He will have to push them Himself.
“Others live the Christian life by keeping their car washed and polished—looking good on the outside—but they fail to give proper attention to the engine that supplies the power.
“Still others live the Christian life by holding the steering wheel and patiently waiting for instructions on where and when to go. Their car has been gassed up by the presence of the Holy Spirit (Php 2:13) Who freely gives His power and counsel for the journey ahead: a lifetime of adventure in the Spirit!
“Are you like that parked car? Are you stalled on the highway to holiness? Are you waiting for a push (a “Let go and let God” mindset)? Even worse, are you trying to push your car down the road of life in your own natural energy?
“Or is your life one that looks good on the outside but lacks the Spirit’s power on the inside? Your most successful life journey will be to begin to sit prayerfully in the presence of His Word and to daily learn to use His Spirit’s energizing supernatural power and counsel to work out your salvation.
“The only thing the Lord will not provide is the decision to sit behind the wheel, turn on the ignition and drive. This is a choice of the will that each one of us must make, but God even gives us that desire. But we still have the choice to act on His desire or to act on our won desire. The choice is yours.”
As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I used the time in prayer. It was a sweet time of prayer, but one part stood out to me: Thank You, Lord, for leading me in paths of righteousness. I recognized this as a part of the well-known twenty-third Psalm, so I turned to this Psalm in my Bible.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
I read this Psalm in a variety of versions, and then opened the Blue Letter Bible, one of my favorite Bible study tools, and did a word study on shepherd. I was surprised at what I learned.
The Hebrew word râʻâh, translated shepherd in this verse, is not a noun as I had expected. It is a verb, an action word that says the LORD, Jahweh, shepherds His children. He tends to my needs, is my companion and special friend.
In 2020, I wrote a Bible study on the Holy Spirit, and as I read these translations of râʻâh I was reminded that these characteristics of the LORD Jehovah are also true of the Holy Spirit. He is our constant companion, the One who lives within us as Christians, teaches us and leads us in how to walk.
I was also reminded that Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd in John 10.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
The LORD, Jahweh, shepherds us because we are His children through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. And when His days of walking on earth were coming to an end, Jesus told His disciples that the Father would send another Helper who would be with them forever.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
John 14:16-17 ESV
Yahwehrâʻâh, the Lord who shepherds us, is a name of God that clearly refers to all three members of the Trinity. As the One who shepherds us, the Lord faithfully meets all our needs. He provides green pastures where we can rest in His amazing love and be refreshed for the path ahead. He leads us beside still waters, a place of peace. And He leads us in paths of righteousness, so that our lives with bring Him glory and honor.
I want to close with Psalm 23 in The Passion Translation (TPT). This isn’t a word-by-word translation but one that digs deeply into the meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words. While I usually begin my Bible study time with either NASB or ESV, I have found the TPT an encouraging version to close my time studying a specific Bible passage.
“Yahweh is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me the right path and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. Even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; you give me all I can drink of you until my cup overflows. So why would I fear the future? Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!”
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
Genesis 17:1 NASB
We have now been in our new home for three weeks … three very busy weeks. One of our first goals in our new town was to find a new church. Yesterday was our second Sunday at the first church we had picked to try out, and the pastor is doing a series entitled Did God Really Say That? In it, he is examining some of the common misconceptions we might be believing about the Bible.
Since Eve’s encounter with the serpent in Genesis 3:1-3, the enemy of our souls has worked to convince people to believe lies about God. The lie covered in yesterday’s sermon was the often heard phrase, God will never give you more than you can handle. Pastor Gary Marshall made it clear that God allows us to face more than we can handle in our own strength, but that’s because we were created to need Him. The only all-sufficient One is El Shaddai, God Almighty.
This was a lesson even the apostle Paul had to learn. God gave many revelations to Paul, but to keep him humble and dependent upon the Lord he also faced severe persecutions and other circumstances that caused him to be weak. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he shares an insight that confirms the truth that God never said He wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t handle. Indeed, He wants us to know His supernatural power is available to us when we’re weak.
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB
I don’t know what you may be facing today, but I do know from personal experience that God allows us to feel weak so we will learn to depend upon His wisdom and strength. God created us to need Him, not to lean on our own understanding or strength. He is the only One Who is self-sufficient and all-powerful. There is nothing God cannot do. If God calls us to do something for Him, we need to remember that He never intended for us to do it by our own abilities. He has sent the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom and strength to complete the task. No matter what God may be asking of you today, remember He is the All-Sufficient One. He will be enough if you depend upon Him!
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalms 18:2-6 NLT
After Samuel anointed David with oil and announced that he would be the next king of Israel, David spent many years running for his life. On the day when the Lord delivered him from the power of his enemies, David wrote Psalm 18 as a prayer to the Lord. In it, he describes how the Lord saved him from death.
Today in Afghanistan, there are many Christians who can identify with this prayer of David. They are hiding in their homes, fearing what the Taliban will do to them if they are discovered. The Taliban is going door to door, looking for any who have a Bible in their possession, even checking phones for any Bible apps. If these are found, they are taking unmarried women captive and killing the other residents of that home.
In the recently released 2022 World Watch List from Open Doors, Afghanistan is now the most dangerous and difficult nation to be a Christian. Last year, a thousand more Christians around the world were killed for their faith than in 2020. One thousand more Christians were detained. Six hundred more churches were attacked or closed. Severe persecution is a way of life for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” Psalms 68:20 NLT
When we as Christians hear the word salvation, we usually think of being saved from our sins by the blood of Christ. While this is the New Testament meaning of salvation, the Old Testament meaning of salvation (El môšāʿâ) primarily refers to saving acts and deliverances from death. This is the kind of salvation found in Psalm 68:20, today’s key verse. This Hebrew word is always plural, a good reminder that Old Testament salvation isn’t a single event. Our God’s saving acts are unlimited.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that when we go through rivers of difficulty, God will be our deliverer. When we face the fire of oppression, the flames will not consume us. (Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT) Our God is the God who saves us from the circumstances that threaten our lives. He is El Moshaah, the God who saves.
I encourage all of those reading this article to check out the OpenDoorsUSA.org website for a list of ways we can pray for those in the body of Christ who are currently facing persecution. Below is a link to their prayer post giving five ways to pray for our brothers and sisters who are currently facing persecution.
Do you ever look around you and think this world is completely out of control? These last two years especially have been filled with a global pandemic, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and an economy on the edge of collapse due to out of control inflation.
In this seemingly out of control world, I have some good news. Our God isn’t shocked by what’s going on. Even though things may look chaotic, He is still in control. He is our mighty God, God Most High!
Today’s post is the first of several covering names of God that begin with the word El, which is usually translated God, and is often used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Today we are looking at one of the most frequently used names, El Elyon.
El comes from a root word meaning might, strength, and power. In Scripture it is usually used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Elyon expresses the sovereignty and majesty of God, and His preeminence (having first place in everything), superiority and excellence, above all others in quality or rank.
El Elyon puts these two names together and identifies God as the sovereign ruler of the universe. This important name of God is used fifty-three times in the Old Testament, including twenty-two times in the book of Psalms.
The first use in Scripture of El Elyon is in Genesis 14:18-20, in the passage that speaks of Melchizedek, king of Salem, as priest of God Most High.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:18-20 ESV
One of my favorite uses of this name of God is found in Psalm 57.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:1-2 ESV
When our circumstances feel overwhelming, it’s time to take refuge in God Most High. This prayer of David was written when he was in a cave, hiding from Saul who was trying to kill him. We may be walking through difficult and chaotic times, but they’re probably not as hard to deal with as what David was facing. David knew God Most High was his refuge and place of safety. Let’s remember, no matter what our circumstances, that our God is still in control and find a place of safety and rest in His presence.
“Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” Isaiah 63:15-16 ESV
Today, I’m starting a series on the names of God. Isaiah 63:15 is the beginning of a prayer of the prophet Isaiah, a prayer for mercy and restoration for the Jewish people. My focus today is on verse 16, where God is seen as FATHER and REDEEMER.
This prayer begins with a plea for God to look down on His erring people with mercy and compassion. God was displeased with His people, and they were in exile in Babylon because of their sin. But He was still their Father and their Redeemer, and Isaiah was praying for God to show them mercy and restore them.
I usually think of Father and Redeemer as New Testament terms, but Isaiah 63:16 shows that they are not limited to this. The people of Israel were loved by their Maker, and their sin that had brought judgment did not change that relationship. They were experiencing His discipline, but He was still their Father and their Redeemer.
The Hebrew word for Father is‘āḇ. It was used of the first ancestor of a family, and it was used figuratively of benevolence & protection. Here it is used of God as the Father of His people, the one Who controls, guides and lovingly watches over His people.
Redeemer, gā’al in Hebrew, means “To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability.” Yahweh is here seen as the one Who redeemed Israel, His people, from slavery in Egypt, and later from exile in Babylon. With God as the subject, it implies a personal relationship that is being restored.
I’m so grateful that the terms Father and Redeemer aren’t limited to Israel. As Christians, those who have accepted Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we also have the privilege of calling Yahweh, Almighty God, our Father. Galatians 4:6-7 says, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
In addition to God being our Father, He is also our Redeemer. In fact, God took on human flesh for the purpose of redeeming us or setting us free from the bondage of sin. Titus 2:14 speaks of God redeeming us to make us “a people for his own possession.”
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
If you have accepted the free gift of salvation, You have the privilege of calling God both Father and Redeemer. If you haven’t accepted Christ’s death on the Cross as the payment for your sin and beginning of a new life, now is the time to do so. I want to close with the word of the apostle Peter, the invitation given to those gathered on the day of Pentecost.
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” Acts 2:38-39 ESV
I’m doing a Chronological Bible Reading Plan this year with one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, and this morning we started reading the book of Isaiah. As I began today’s reading of Isaiah 1-4, I only made it to the 7th verse.
“Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.” Isaiah 1:7 ESV
While I know in context this refers to the judgment Israel would face, Israel wasn’t the nation that came to mind when I read this verse. I received it as a message to the church in the United States of America and to me personally as a member of that church.
2020 saw our country facing a pandemic caused by a virus from China that shut down our economy and did unbelievable damage to our nation and other nations around the word. We also saw riots that resulted in many of our cities being burned with fire. Then the year ended with an election that evidence shows was corrupted by foreigners.
If these were signs that Israel’s sin of idolatry and unfaithfulness to God would be judged, should God’s people in this nation see these happenings as a judgment of our own sin. Could God be warning us as a nation that it’s time to return to the founding principles that have made America great?
Many of our founding fathers came from Christian backgrounds which influenced their beliefs and principles. These same principles and beliefs were foundational in the documents and events that founded this great country. We can conclude from the founder’s words that our country was established as one nation under God.
John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence, one of two signers of the Bill of Rights, and the second President of the United States wrote the following in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
The apostle Peter warned us that when judgment comes on a nation, it begins with God’s people, “the household of God.”
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 ESV
Much of the church in the United States no longer holds fast to the Word of God. Compromise with the culture in which we live has become acceptable. In many churches, the truth of the Gospel has been exchanged for sermons that make us feel good. It’s time for the church of Jesus Christ to repent and return to foundations upon which it was founded.
As I was praying for our nation this morning, Matthew 5:13-16 came to mind. These verses which are familiar to most Christians describe our calling to be salt and light in the world. Salt preserves and adds flavor to life. Light reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world, and as His body we are called to represent Him.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 ESV
During the month of July, I have been reading through the books of Psalms and Proverbs, and this morning’s reading included Psalm 90. I’ve been using the New Living Translation to get a fresh view of these Scriptures that I’ve read hundreds of times in the around fifty years that I’ve been a Christian.
Psalm 90 is the oldest of the Psalms. It was written by Moses, in the form of a prayer, and entitled From Everlasting to Everlasting. The first verses focus on the eternal nature of our God.
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:1-2 ESV
Moses starts with a reminder that no matter what circumstances we face, we have a safe dwelling place in the Lord. The New Living Translation calls it a home. In Him we have shelter and protection from danger or distress. The Creator of the earth and heavens calls us to come to Him and be secure.
The next verses are Moses prayer of lament over the brevity of life and the judgment of sins. This section ends with a reminder that our “secret sins” are not a secret to God.
“You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.” Psalm 90:8-9 NLT
Then we come to the two verses that jumped out at me as I was reading them this morning.
“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away… Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:10, 12 NLT
” Seventy years are given to us!” These are the words that seemed to jump off the page as I was reading this morning. And before I looked forward, the words “teach us to number our days” came to mind. I was surprised to see that this truth was only two verses ahead. Because of the brevity of life, and the fact that I turned seventy-two in February, the thought came that I am “living on borrowed time.” The time when I will “fly away” to be in the presence of the Lord could be any time.
Remembering how fragile our life on earth is a good reminder to appreciate the years and months and even the days I still have to complete the purposes of God for my life. I need to value every moment and live wisely and with purpose. Time is short, so I need to live with a sense of urgency, seeking God’s wisdom for each day’s tasks.
At age seventy-two, I’m well aware of the brevity of life. As I read these verses, 2 Corinthians 4:16 came to mind. It begins with a reminder not to lose heart when our outer self, our physical bodies, begin wasting away. In my own life, over the last year I’ve seen the cartilage in my knees waste away so that my knees are now basically bone on bone. How do we not lose heart in this situation? The key is remembering this life is not all there is.
Living with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and an endless list of other infirmities, as many of you who read my blog do, is living with watching your bodies slowly waste away. But the good news is that’s not where the Apostle Paul ended this verse. He added the encouragement that our inner self is being renewed day by day.
If you are a Christian, one who has been forgiven and who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, your inner self is renewed as you spend time in God’s life-giving presence. Colossians 3:10 (ESV) says we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Through prayer and reading the Bible, God’s written Word, your inner self, the part of you that was made for eternity, is being renewed daily by the Holy Spirit.
No matter how many years you have left on this earth, they are a brief moment compared to eternity. Don’t despair when you see your outer self wasting away. Instead, turn your focus on renewing your inner self and on doing the things that will count for eternity.
“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Jeremiah 31:25
When I read this verse Monday morning, it opened my eyes to where I’ve been walking since March. This COVID-19 pandemic that has turned our lives upside down seems like it will never end. Add the civil unrest and violence in our nation and the situation seems dire. Soul weariness has made it difficult for me to accomplish anything during the last couple weeks.
The Hebrew word for “weary” is used of one who is “wearied out from a long journey and at the same time suffering from thirst.” Has this “journey” caused you to be “wearied out”? Has it caused you to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) instead of the injustice and violence that seems to be thriving? Is your weary soul needing to be replenished? To be filled up and restored? Mine sure is!
So how do we replenish our dry souls as these circumstances drag on and on? Here are five ways that have helped me. (All verses in ESV unless noted)
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a) To be still means “to stop frantic activity, to let down, and to be still.” It is a stillness that leaves behind the pressures and even the jobs that still need to be done for a time of rest and restoration. To know is to perceive by observing and reflecting or by experience. As we become still and allow our minds to take a rest from the things of this world, remember how this Psalm begins. God is still “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) He is there for you if you’ll just take your needs to Him.“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31 NASB) The word “rest” in this verse refers to taking a break from your labor. Find a “secluded place” and rest for a while, relax and simply enjoy the presence of the Lord. For you that might be by taking a short walk and enjoying the birds singing and flowers growing. It may be a short trip to the beach. But resting doesn’t always mean a change in your physical location, as long as you’re leaving behind the daily stresses and spending time with the Lord. Find a restful place and allow the burdens of this season to be rolled off your shoulders and onto the shoulders of the Lord.“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2) As you rest, ask the Lord to speak to you through His written word. Listen. Is there a specific Scripture that comes to mind? Take time to meditate on that Scripture. Start with prayer and ask God to help you understand the verse or passage. How does it apply to what you are currently walking through? Is there anything God is showing you that you need to obey?“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) One of the biggest struggles I’ve had during this season is the requirement for social distancing. To prevent spread of the virus, we’ve been asked to wear masks whenever we are out and stay physically separated. But we can still gather together during this season in other ways. Reach out to someone else who may be struggling with weariness and loneliness with a text or phone call. “Talk” with a friend on Facebook Messenger. Send a card to someone who is struggling during this time. Remember, God isn’t limited by social distancing. When we reach out to others in His name, He is there among us.“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) The hour is now here, when true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth. What does this mean? This idea was a part of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well. The message was that worship of God is not to be confined to a single geographical location. Many of us have not been in our local church for months, instead having to “worship” online. The Holy Spirit isn’t limited to one specific building for true worship to happen. True worship comes from the heart. It is doctrinally grounded and focused on the truth of all we know of our great God. It’s the Holy Spirit who stirs in our spirit a desire to celebrate and rejoice and give thanks to God for all He has given us in Jesus Christ. Corporate worship is a blessing, but until that is once again safe, let’s remember that we can worship the Lord in spirit and in truth right where we are.
Find time today to bring your weary soul to the Lord so He can replenish your inner man, fill you back up again. Be still and remember God is still in control. Take times in your days to simply rest, to leave behind all your responsibilities and focus on restoring your weary soul. Let God speak to you through His Word. Soak up the peace that comes in His presence. And take some time to worship God for Who He is and all He has done for you. Even though this time of COVID-19 and civil unrest probably won’t be behind us anytime soon, let’s remember to practice these steps of replenishing our weary souls.