A Time of Renewal

God created the sabbath as a merciful gesture for people not for the purpose of burdening them.

Meditation Thought: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

The sabbath was made for man to have a time of renewal – of opportunity to come to know God better, to have a chance to recuperate physically, to be strengthened spiritually, and to be inspired mentally.

To understand the purpose of the sabbath is a necessity before it can become what God intended it to be.

To make the sabbath a time of concentration upon ceremony rather than on celebration of God’s creative love and care is to waste it, making the very intended healing invalid. For ‘healing’ it is to be: the weary body, the confused and frenetic mind, the listless spirit are all brought to health and wholeness through this ‘treatment’ of a change in pace: a time when, with clear conscience, one can – and should – postpone the ordinary daily routine. Some tasks are necessary for making even the sabbath comfortable, and some tasks are chosen because to neglect them would be distressing – but the point is that the sabbath should be a state of mind: an attitude of setting time aside to be aware of God, to become closer to God and man, to be renewed and refreshed.

All of this is the help ourselves: to be a slave to ‘rules’ to the point of not allowing the Spirit to guide us in how to have the sabbath be the rejuvenating force that it is meant to be, is to deny that we are to be open to the Lord’s constant creative teaching and care. This is the message for which Jesus came: the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.

God created the sabbath as a merciful gesture for people not for the purpose of burdening them.

But for us to ignore His message – either by rejecting the necessity of a sabbath by rejecting God as our Source and Sustainer or by distorting the sabbath by misunderstanding God’s purpose of creating it, is to thwart God’s will: His will is for us to be in close fellowship with Himself. This is possible only as we are actively seeking to enhance this fellowship through being willing to learn what He would teach us.

Dwell in Safety

But when we know that the Lord will defend us from all harm, we no longer need to be on guard or to fight. We do need to make effort, however, making sure that we are within God’s presence so that He can protect us. He will not force us…

Meditation Thought: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) May 5, 1983

Only when we feel we have no need to defend ourselves are we able to relax and rest.

There are many areas in life which threaten us – not just physical, but emotional, mental and spiritual. We at times fear the circumstances that might come in the future.

If we have to cope with all of these threats by our own power, we can hardly rest, for we are poorly equipped to defend from every side the things which could destroy us is they reach us, and we must constantly be on guard to meet the challenges of the foes.

But when we know that the Lord will defend us from all harm, we no longer need to be on guard or to fight. We do need to make effort, however, making sure that we are within God’s presence so that He can protect us. He will not force us to be where He is, doing what He is doing. But if we are not with Him, doing His works – then we are in the wilderness and lost and alone, forced to fight whatever would destroy us.

Prayer: Oh Lord – I desire to be with You, doing your works. Help me to be even more perceptive as to how to be with You without wandering off to follow some interesting distraction. Help me to really do Your works, not just desire to do them.

Then shall I dwell in safety and sleep in peace.

Thank you!

Amen

Blessed Refuge

Will not the storm
Drive you to a sheltered place?
My arms await you:
Come home, come home!
My light of love
Shines forth
To lead you surely here.

Meditation Thought: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:12) May 3, 1983

“All who are living face danger, face challenges – some face greater trials than others. Each trial is an opportunity to bring glory to Me, for each is an opportunity to take refuge in Me – and an opportunity for Me to bless all who are sheltered within My arms!

Will not the storm
Drive you to a sheltered place?
My arms await you:
Come home, come home!
My light of love
Shines forth
To lead you surely here.
Together we shall
Weather the storm,
And when the sun
Shines faith again,
Your faith will be stronger,
Your spirit greater,
Your mind enriched,
Your body dedicated
To My service,
And your will
Seeking My will.
I am with you
Wherever you go.
But the times of stress
Are the periods
That send you
Scuttling into my arms,
Clinging to Me,
So close our “hearts”
Feel the other’s beats;
We know we need
Each other
To live as life
Should be lived.
We shall survive
Whatever comes –
And survive to
The point we thrive:
This is the “abundant life” –
Going through time
And working through trials Together:
Perhaps clinging in love,
Or walking hand in hand –
At times working side by side,
But always I desire you close.
You are mine –
To love,
To cherish,
To honor
As My own –
Do not I deserve
As much as I give?
Can you
Love, honor, cherish Me?
If so, you and I
Shall see miracles
Blossom forth,
As the world is enhanced
By the beauty and fruit
Of the kingdom bursting
Through all evil,
Selfish, ugly sin,
Irradiating it,
Purifying it –
Changing it to
Sin forgiven.
It becomes a tribute
To My power and My love,
And the worthiness
Of trusting Me.

The Presence of Jesus

When we realize that our thought today shapes our circumstances tomorrow, and our act today will come back to us in kind, we are far more careful about what we think and what we do.

Meditation Thought: “And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:62-64)

Though relatively few would see Jesus in the flesh after this trial and His crucifixion, many would perceive His place as being in authority by His proximity to God the Father, and would perceive Jesus’ coming by the means of the Holy Spirit – not a visible body manifestation of Jesus, but an inner knowledge of His Presence.

And it would transform them, for the truth of Jesus’ teachings concerning eternal life would be demonstrated. To perceive that what we are – and what we do – is not limited to our physical existence, but, both here in the time span of our physical manifestation, and later, in another manifestation, is to accept a new standard of thinking and behavior.

When we realize that our thought today shapes our circumstances tomorrow, and our act today will come back to us in kind, we are far more careful about what we think and what we do. This can be a great burden – if we resent this truth. Or it can be a great joy – if we “see” Jesus with our “mind’s eye” coming int our lives “on clouds of glory” – bringing the atmosphere of heaven into the physical realm, while bringing us His Presence to abide with us – and His Presence makes all the difference for us as we cope with life in the flesh, learning how to better cope with life in other realms.

We have all we need to go undefeated by any circumstance; we are protected from ultimate harm; we have an awareness of beauty, harmony and order; we have strength and joy and appreciation of all of life: external, internal and eternal.

The Presence of Jesus gives us courage, hope, and confidence far beyond that which we have without His Presence. Others may not see Him as our constant companion – nevertheless, they will see the results of His companionship. They will respond to the results. In this manner, do we have a transformed life: we are “new creatures” in Christ.

The Father’s Kingdom Revealed

It would seem that upon His act of proving life beyond the flesh, He also revealed the “place” of His Father’s kingdom…

Meditation Thought: “I shall not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)

The “next time” Jesus ate (and presumably drank) with His disciples was after His death and resurrection. This would indicate that He considered His “Father’s kingdom” where He and the disciples were eating together – which was in Galilee, which was in the world, where the disciples were – where Jesus had requested they meet Him.

It would seem that upon His act of proving life beyond the flesh, He also revealed the “place” of His Father’s kingdom: the place being wherever the resurrected Christ meets a believer. Or perhaps, more accurately, the place where a believer meets the resurrected Christ, as he proceeds according to directions given to him by Christ.

The directions for us are “spelled out” in His direction to His original disciples. His teachings concerning God and God’s kingdom were intended for all: this was His very purpose of birth and death and resurrection in the flesh.

As was true of the disciples, we can be with Him only by joining Him – and He is in the Father’s kingdom. This is where we shall find Him: not in a church building, nor in another’s faith – but in our own inner spirit and mind, with a contrite and searching heart. Only when we begin to grasp the awesomeness – and the power – of the resurrection can we have the courage and fortitude to find the kingdom where we can meet our Lord, and allow Him to teach us about our Father and our Father’s kingdom.

This kingdom is so unlike our physical environment that it takes adjustments in many areas to even begin to comprehend it. It is more like traveling to a new planet than a new country. Not only is there a difference of language (consider how many ways Jesus attempted to describe what the kingdom is like – there seemed to be no adequate words in our language to reveal it accurately) – but a difference of cultural values, of perception of priorities, and a totally new environment, requiring a different style of living in every area.

No wonder it takes us a long time to have even a remote conception of what we are encountering in this kingdom where we meet Him!

It is made even more difficult to stay with Him as the world attempts to get us to remain focused upon it, and remain concerned only with the physical and with the self-interest aspects of life. Only by conscious, consistent effort are we able to stay focused on Christ and thus remain in His Presence in the kingdom.

We simply do not have the stamina to do this alone: we must admit we do not have that much power within ourselves, and ask Him to hold us close, and lend us His strength to do all that we need to do as the Father’s children – obedient and reflective of Him in character and in deeds. This is the only way that it is possible to be with Jesus in the Father’s kingdom.

In one respect, it costs us dearly – our pride must be paid as ransom – but in another respect it is free – Jesus has paid the ransom for our sin of rebellion against the Father.

When we are able to be willing to pay the pride and to accept the gift, we have found the key to unlock the gate to the Father’s kingdom. April 26, 1983

Keeper of the Kingdom

The kingdom is administered differently than the world is administered.

Meditation Thought: “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me… Truly I say to you, as you did it to the one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40)

Your Father desires that you, as His child, inherit His kingdom. But you must be responsible before He can entrust it to you, knowing that you will be competent to deal with the inheritance, using it as He he has used it, or more properly as has administered it.

The kingdom is administered differently than the world is administered.

The ‘keeper of the kingdom’ must be, as is the Father, loving, gracious, forgiving, righteous, helpful, compassionate, zealous, energetic, orderly, competent, kind, perceptive, wise, knowledgeable, powerful.

How can you be such a ‘keeper’ – particularly as you have the ways of the world beckoning you to follow them? – the ways of selfishness, greed, self-seeking, slothfulness, deceit, slander, ruthlessness?

Only by disciplining yourself to know the Word (which is the law of the kingdom)) and to emulate your Father from whom you inherit, doing His works as He instructs you and reveals His ways to you, can you be entrusted to be a ‘keeper of the kingdom”: an heir.

The Son has clearly demonstrated the type of heir that is pleasing to the Father, the methods to be used in being a keeper of the kingdom while at the same time being in the flesh. While in the flesh, you are to be a keeper of the kingdom precisely as you will be behaving when you leave the flesh.

The physical manifestation is the training which you will need, and the development of your skills needed to administer the kingdom in the realm other than physical. You are to become skillful at using many talents in such a way as to multiply them, bringing joy not only to your “master” who entrusted them to you, but to those whom He benefits with them including yourself.

A Future of Good Return

…the present determines the character of the future.

Meditation Thought: “…if the householder had known in which part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and not let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:43,44)

You must anticipate the future, realizing that the present determines the character of the future. This will give you strength to conduct yourself as you ought, even when the required behavior is not to your liking at the moment. Not all moments will be “sacrificial” moments – in fact, as you come to rejoice in the perceiving and doing of the will of the Father, more and more activities will be joyful, and fewer and fewer perceived as sacrificial. It is this change in perception that is the moving of the kingdom upon the earth. It comes only by discipline and sacrifice of selfish desires – but the rewards of the discipline and sacrifice are as bountiful as the promised “hundred fold” harvest. It is this knowledge which gives you courage to labor for the moment, particularly when the labor is not to your liking.

The times of reaping the harvest – the unfathomable joy of actually having the promised return, will be carried in your memory as your tools to make the labor easier during the “tilling” times.

The more you experience in planting, tilling and harvesting – whatever area (field) it is in, the greater your wisdom and knowledge is to prompt a bountiful harvest.

This is consistent with the rewards of using whatever “talents” are provided int the most productive ways possible, and also the more provided, the more required. Each portion is either multiplied or not, and the more portions the more dramatic the contrast of results. The “Son of man coming at an hour you do not expect” compares to the owner of the fields checking out the status of your care of them. You cannot “set up” a good appearance for the “inspection” because you have no notice of the inspection time. Therefore, care must be constant and inspection will always reveal good care of the field because good care never ceases, when the laborer is as concerned about the harvest as the owner.

IT is the laborer who realizes that the owner will share the harvest with him who is able to be motivated to do a good job. If he is lazy he eventually cheats himself. It is those who will remove concentration from self alone who will know this, and thus use the present to provide a future of good return for themselves.