A Day to Rest

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work. Exodus 23:12

One Sunday, I stood by the gurgling stream that wends its way through our North London community, delighting in the beauty it brings to our otherwise built-up area. I felt myself relax as I watched the cascading water and listened to the birds chirping. I paused to give the Lord thanks for how He helps us to find rest for our souls.

The Lord instituted a time of Sabbath—a time for rest and renewal—for His people in the ancient Near East because He wanted them to thrive. As we see in the book of Exodus, He tells them to sow their fields for six years and rest on the seventh. So too with working six days and resting on the seventh. His way of life set apart the Israelites from other nations, for not only they but also the foreigners and slaves in their households were allowed to follow this pattern.

In our faith and service, rest is as important as work.

We can approach our day of rest with expectancy and creativity, welcoming the chance to worship and do something that feeds our souls, which will vary according to our preferences. Some will like to play games; some to garden; some to share a meal with friends and family; some to take an afternoon nap.

How can we rediscover the beauty and richness of setting apart a day to rest, if that’s missing from our lives?

Lord God, in You we find our rest. Thank You that You’ve created us both to work and to rest. Please help us to find the right rhythm for our lives.

In our faith and service, rest is as important as work.

By Amy Boucher Pye 

INSIGHT:The reality of our need of rest is reinforced by Jesus’s invitation in Matthew 11:28–30, “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.” Jesus speaks of life’s burdens and His provisions for us (an easy yoke and a light burden), and that is good. Notice, however, that the rest He offers is not simply found in the cessation of activity or release from burdens. It is found in actively seeking His presence and His provision for our lives. Jesus speaks of rest “for [our] souls” which is far more than mere relaxing. It is the rest that replenishes us in the core of our being. This is the ultimate goal of Sabbath—a rest that recuperates the heart and restores the spirit. Bill Crowder

God’s Promise in Context

Psalm 19:7-11

Yesterday we noted that to understand God’s divine promises, believers must consider the whole counsel of God. For example, the Lord’s commitment to supply our needs isn’t isolated from other parts of Scripture.

Trust God to provide (James 1:6-7). James opens his letter with a strong warning that those who doubt the Lord can expect nothing from Him. God’s trustworthiness is clear in Scripture and in believers’ lives, but our wavering confidence undermines His work.

Wait upon His timing (1 Samuel 13:9-13). Instead of waiting for Samuel, King Saul usurped the prophet’s authority by making a pre-battle sacrifice to God. Though his army won, Saul lost God’s favor as well as the throne. People who manipulate circumstances and timing expect good results but are often disappointed. No one gets what he really wants by supplying his own need.

Accept responsibility (Prov. 19:15; Prov. 20:4). We can’t expect God will open a door to opportunity while we’re just sitting back. We have to be on the lookout, ready to participate. For example, if we need a job, we should be out submitting applications. If we want to know the Father’s direction for a hard situation, we must be seeking Him regularly through prayer and His Word.

God knows our needs, and He has committed Himself to meeting every one. But He does not make promises in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to trust Him, be patient, and do our part. Then we leave it to the Lord to move heaven and earth to provide.

Careful Ephesus

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;. . . I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:1-2)

This church, founded by the apostle Paul, had grown in its doctrinal precision and careful attention to the words of Scripture. They were intensely focused on purity of leadership and were vigilant against any form of false teaching. Most of us would find that kind of church a refreshing example to follow in these days of indifferent (and often heretical) theology.

They hated the “deeds of the Nicolaitanes,” which was a horrible practice that the Lord Himself hated (Revelation 2:6). Peter had warned against this domineering attitude in his first general letter to the churches when he insisted that the elders of the churches should not be “lords over God’s heritage, but [be] ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).

Ephesus was a “good” church, but the risen Lord Jesus had “somewhat against” them. Apparently, amid all of their careful attention to doctrine and to purity of leadership lifestyle, they had “left [their] first love” (Revelation 2:4). They had fallen from the deep bond of love they had demonstrated years earlier when Paul called the elders to Miletus to encourage and exhort them to remain faithful to “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They were so much in tune with Paul’s heart for the gospel that they “all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him” (Acts 20:37).

The drift away from that “first love” was so serious that the Lord warned Ephesus to repent or He would take away their “candlestick” (Revelation 2:5)—their authority to represent Christ as one of His churches. Cold, precise doctrine must never take away our love for people or for the truth. HMM III

“Blessed are they that have not seen, yet have believed.”

Judges 6:33-40

Judges 6:33-34

When the enemy moved, the Lord moved his chosen servant to meet them, and at his signal many of the downtrodden people plucked up courage and came forth from their hiding places to face the enemy.

Judges 6:35

The Lord’s people are willing in the day of his power.

Judges 6:36-40

See how tenderly the Lord condescends to the weakness of his servant’s faith, and doubly strengthens his confidence. The Lord gives to us similar signs to confirm our faith. Sometimes under the ordinances we are bedewed with grace when others are not, and at other times we feel our natural gracelessness in the very place where others rejoice in abundance of grace. If our religion were mechanical, we could arrange its force; if it were formal, we could maintain its sameness; but since it is of the Lord, it is dependent upon his sovereign grace, and we are made to feel that it is so.

Judges 7:1-8

Judges 7:2

Helpers with God are never too few, but we learn from this passage that they may be too many. This is a blow for those who boast their numbers, and an encouragement for the few and feeble.

Judges 7:4

This was a great trial for Gideon’s faith. If weak in some points, it was mighty in others.

Judges 7:5

The lappers were men in haste for action, full of passion for the war; men who could not rest till they had smitten their cruel oppressors. Such men the Lord will work with.

Judges 7:7, 8

The swordsmen melted away, and only a few trumpeters remained. Now were matters right for conflict, and ripe for victory. When we are weak, then are we strong. Stripped of all such strength as can be seen, we cast ourselves upon the power invisible.

 

They Shall Cast Out Devils!

Mark 16:17

I have had to deal with demonic manifestations on several occasions in my ministry. I remember one time when a young Satanist teenager came forward at the end of one of my meetings in a large church. That night this young man had come to realize that Satan’s powers had taken his mind captive, so he came forward to receive prayer and to be set free.

As I prayed for this one and then that one, I could visibly see from a distance that this particular young man was sending forth spiritual signals of a very strong, evil presence. As I came nearer to him, I sensed that he had been involved in some type of occult activity.

When I finally reached the young man, he looked up at me through eyes that were so tightly squeezed together, they looked like nothing more than little slits in his face. Looking into his eyes, I felt like a demon was looking back at me from behind his face. When I saw this young man’s condition, I knew he was serious about being helped. It had taken a great deal of determination for him to shove that manipulating force aside and forge his way down to the front of the church auditorium.

As I laid my hands on the young man that night, his body began to violently shake as it reacted to the power of God. Trembling under the weight of God’s power, he fell to the floor, crumbling down right next to my feet. Lying there under the electrifying power of God that was surging up and down his body, he cried out, as though something was trying to exit his body. As I leaned over to pray for him a second time, the horrible demonic influence that had held him captive immediately released him and fled from the scene.

This is just one instance of dealing with the demonized that I’ve encountered during our years in the former Soviet Union. We have had so many instances that I couldn’t begin to count them. When atheism took over, the people turned to psychic phenomena to satisfy their spiritual hunger. As you can imagine, that opened the floodgates for demonic activity in thousands of people’s lives.

So what do we do when we confront a demonic infestation in someone’s life? We take authority over it in Jesus’ name and cast it out!

In Mark 16:17, Jesus said, “… In my name shall they cast out devils….” The word “cast out” is the Greek word ekballo, which is a compound of the words ek and ballo. The word ek means out, and the word ballo means to throw. When compounded into one word, it means to throw out, as to evict someone from a place; to drive out; or to expel. Historically it was used to describe a nation that forcibly removed its enemies out from its borders.

The word “devils” is the Greek word daimonion, meaning demons. In Jesus’ time, it was widely believed that demons thickly populated the lower, denser regions of the air and that these demons were the primary cause of most disasters and suffering that occurred in the earth. It was believed that demon spirits came into contact with humans primarily through occult practices, such as magic, spells, necromancy, or by one’s participation in religious paganism, which centered around such occult activities.

It is worth noting that the world in which Jesus lived generally believed that demon spirits were the chief cause for mental sickness or insanity. The ancients also firmly believed that demon spirits were ordered and arranged with an entire hierarchy of power. This agrees completely with the picture that Paul gives us in Ephesians 6:12, where he describes the rank and file of the devil’s kingdom (see June 10).

Today we tend to think of casting out demons in terms of ordering a demon spirit to leave a person’s body or mind. Certainly this is one aspect of casting out demons, and we need to be quick to take authority over demons in this way when we recognize their activity. We see examples of Jesus expelling demons in various places in the Gospels. Examples include:

  • Matthew 8:16, where it is written, “… and he cast out the spirits with his word….” The words “cast out” are also from the Greek word ekballo, meaning to forcibly throw out. It tells us that Jesus literally kicked these demons out of people’s lives!
  • Matthew 9:34, where even the Pharisees acknowledged Jesus’ authority over demon spirits. It says, “But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils….” These words “casteth out” are also from the word ekballo, which means even the Pharisees recognized that Jesus literally tossed demons out of people’s lives.
  • Matthew 10:1, which says, “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out….” Once again, the words “cast them out” are from the Greek word ekballo. Not only did Jesus expel demons from people’s lives, but He commissioned and anointed His followers to do the same.

Mark 16:17 makes it very clear that casting out demons is a responsibility that every believer possesses. Jesus never went looking for demons, and neither should we. But when they appear, we are to act as Jesus would act—taking authority over them and kicking them out of people’s lives, thus setting the people free from demonic control.

Demons were also considered to be the chief force behind occultism, sorcery, witchcraft, and paganism. Therefore, the removal of these practices was viewed to be another facet of casting out demons. This is why events like the one recorded in Acts 19:18, 19 was so serious. It says, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

Notice that verse 18 says these new converts came and showed their “deeds.” This word “deeds” is from the Greek word praksis, which definitely refers to magical arts, incantations, spells, or any item or activity connected with witchcraft or sorcery. Verse 19 then speaks of those who had been involved in the “curious arts.” This comes from the Greek word periergos, which refers to everything connected to the practice of witchcraft or sorcery.

This verse also tells us that the people “… brought their books together, and burned them before all men….” The word “books” is the Greek word biblios. Today our idea of a “book” is like the one you are reading right now. But in ancient times there were no hardbound books; instead, the word biblios referred to scrolls or parchments. These scrolls and parchments were extremely expensive because the information contained in them was written by hand. But because these new converts wanted to cast out all demonic activity from their lives, they “… burned them before all men….”

The word “burned” is the Greek word katakaino, which means to completely burn or to thoroughly burn. This was done as a public declaration that they were permanently removing these objects from their lives. They were kicking evil out from their midst and publicly announcing that they could never turn the clock back and return to these past activities. Once those books were burned, it meant evil had been cast out of their lives.

So when you think of casting out demons, don’t think only of taking authority over a yelling, screaming demon and ordering it to leave an individual. Part of casting out demons is also removing anything associated with magical arts, incantations, spells, or any items or activities connected with witchcraft or sorcery. If you study Church history, you will find that early believers were so convinced that this was vital to the removal of evil that they defaced the pagan statues and destroyed places of pagan religious practices.

As you deal with people who have been demonized, take authority over those evil spirits and cast them out. Jesus has anointed you to do this, and you can do it. But don’t forget that breaking all ties to occult practices is also a part of the process. Cleanse the person, and then cleanse the environment!

Removing every evil item in one’s possession is a part of true deliverance and repentance. So be sure to burn all bridges to the past to show that you are truly casting all evil from your presence—and help those to whom you are ministering do the samel

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, give me the courage to speak up and take authority over demons! Your Word declares that You have given me power over all unclean spirits. I am ready to use that power to bring freedom into people’s lives who are bound. Help me know how to best minister to people who fall into this category so that their freedom can be full and complete!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly confess that I have authority over all evil spirits. I have no reason to be afraid of them! Jesus gave me power and authority over all the works of the devil. When I am confronted with a demonic manifestation, I speak to it, take authority over it, and cast it out in Jesus’ name!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of a time when you encountered a person who you believe was genuinely demonized? What was your immediate reaction when you realized you were being confronted by an evil spiritual entity speaking through another person?
  2. Have you ever taken authority over a demon spirit and commanded it to leave another person’s life? If yes, what happened? If no, is there a reason you’ve never used the power and authority Jesus gave you to do this?
  3. Had you previously considered the removal of occult items and objects as a facet of casting out demons? What do you think about this, and how does it affect your view of the objects you have in your home or apartment right now?

 

Learning To Practice The Presence Of God

Brother Lawrence ( 1611-1691 ) was a layman with no formal training, who worked during his adult years in the kitchen of a monastery in France. This devout disciple discovered the practice of living moment by moment in “the presence of God. Following are excerpts from his writings :

 

I renounced, for the love of God, everything that was not God, and I began to live as if there was none but God and I in the world… ”

 

“I worshipped Him as often as I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it back to God as often as I found it had wandered from Him… ”

 

I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presencean habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God.”

 

“I imagine myself as the most wretched of all, full of sores and sins, and one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his king. Feeling a deep sorrow, I confess to Him all of my sins, I ask his forgiveness, and I abandon myself into His hands so that He may do with me what He pleases.”

 

This King, full of mercy and goodness, far from chastening me, embraces me with love, invites me to feast at His table, serves me with His own hands, and gives me the key to His treasures. He converses with me, and takes delight in me… This is how I imagine myself from time to time in His holy presence… ”

 

“My most useful method is this simple attention, done with a passionate regard toward God to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at its mother’s breast. So much so that – if I dare use this expression – I choose to call this state the bosom of God because of the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there.”

 

If sometimes my thoughts wander from God because of necessity, I am recalled back to God soon after by inward sensations so charming and delicious that I am afraid to speak of them… ”

 

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

 

 

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