TO THOSE SEEKING REST

Refresh
Refresh by Laura Kestly

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength (Isaiah 40:28-29).

True rest comes via God’s Way. It’s a gift that only benefits those who receive it.

So why are so many hearts heavy-laden when Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you that labor & are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?

Likely because man (referring to woman too) is stubborn & won’t take Christ’s yoke upon him/her and learn from the One who is meek & lowly in heart– whose yoke is easy & burden light (Matt. 11:28-30). Man would rather try things ‘his way’–by his own doing–via his own works and merit instead of placing his faith through Christ in God. Adam & Eve were ruined for not placing their faith/belief in what God had said. Instead of rest, physical toil & pain resulted (Gen. 3:16-19). More ruin ensued after their sons Cain & Abel were born and brought their offerings to the Lord. Cain’s works were evil, because they were his own and of the Evil one. Abel’s works were righteous because they were ‘by faith’ according to what God required (Gen. 4:1-16; Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12).

Man/woman will never ‘be at rest’ in their spirit when they choose their own imperfect ways over God’s perfect ones. In order to know what those ways are & in which way to go, reading & studying God’s Word is a must. As Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “…In all your ways acknowledge Him & He will direct (rightly divide) your paths”.

Here are some basic differences in the 2 ways:

  • God’s way rests on WHAT GOD HAS SAID and WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE (not of works so no man can boast—it’s by faith and grace–the believer is ‘complete in Him’ Eph. 2:8-9, Col. 2:10).
  • MAN’S WAY rests on WHAT MAN THINKS & FANCIES–what man can do by merit of works (outwardly). It is religion.
  • GOD’S WAY is through Christianity, which CONSISTS IN A PERSON—CHRIST—concerned with the inner man.
  • MAN’S WAY is through religion, which CONSISTS IN HUMAN AUTHORITY–THROUGH THE EVIL ONE (2 Cor. 11:14, Matt. 13:38-39, James 3:14-15)—concerned with the outer man which is made up of men’s forms, rites, ceremonies, articles, creeds, confessions, doctrines, traditions, building projects, causes, awards…

It was religion that Jesus came against so strongly (Take a peek at who the 8 woes were against in Matt. 23:13-29). It was religion that murdered Abel, had the prophets killed and crucified Christ because it was all energized from the great Deceiver (Matt. 23:30-35, John 8:44).

Man’s ways are just tiring and profit nothing-a wasted striving & chasing after the wind (Eccl. 2:11, John 6:63, Rom. 8:6). One only has to read King Solomon’s reflections in Ecclesiastes 12 to begin to understand. Man is bent toward its old nature and ways and so the necessity to renew the mind to be conformed to a better way of thinking (God’s way) will be the only direction that will give rest to the weary soul (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:5-10).

God’s Word tell us that although bodily exercise can be a bit profitable, it’s Godliness that is the best investment of time because it has promise in the present life plus the one to come (1 Tim. 4:8).

The outer self may be dying, but the inner self is able to be renewed day by day. There is even rest in the spirit for those who rely on God’s strength & ways while going through disappointments, trials, pain and afflictions on earth because it’s all temporary in light of the hope of eternity (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

So Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you and refresh your weary soul (1 Peter 5:7).  

Laura

EVICTION TO RECLAMATION

EvictedA Story of Hope

                Theirs was the perfect country residency. It was really quite the set up–fully loaded with everything they could possibly need. All that was required of them was to make sure that it was taken care of and preserved. The only stipulation that the Architect/LandLORD had been adamant about was for them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. If they did they would forfeit their security (of life) deposit (Genesis 2:15-17).

                They were unaware that a potential, conniving squatter had snuck in and was planning on scamming them into breaking their contract with the LandLORD. In his corrupted, scheming heart it was a ‘no brainer’. All he had to do was make them question what the LandLORD had said & knew they’d forget about the stipulation—and of course that’s exactly what happened (Gen. 3:1-6).

                The LandLORD became aware immediately and the penalties were swift for the tenants (Gen. 3:16-19). They not only were evicted from their home of paradise but forfeited their security (of life) deposit as warned (Gen. 3:22-24) and were sent out–homeless–to live their remaining sentence, with the stain of sin & death on their record, in a very different dark & fallen environment that was filled with toil, sweat and pain. Sadly the fate of their poor choice was even more far reaching–extending to every generation to come (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). The usurper would be held accountable as well for his part and suffer total destruction in due time (Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8). Until then he would be allowed to continue to tempt and deceive mankind (John 8:44, Heb. 2:14, 2 Cor. 4:4).

                “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

                All was not lost as a Savior from on high entered into the fallen world and took on flesh & blood so that through His sacrificial death, He could destroy the devil (the usurper, who was allowed the power of death) and thus deliver mankind, who’d been subject to bondage all this time and make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Though as sinners they were undeserving of this merciful grace—He still died for them.) (Luke 1:30-32, 35, 78-79, 2:11; Heb. 2:14-17; Phil. 2:5-8; Eph. 2:3-5). This Savior/Mediator, though sinless, gave Himself as ransom for all, through His blood so that those who received this offer would become in good standing (as their debt was forgiven) once again with the LandLORD (Col. 1:12, 14, 20, 2:14; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 3:5).

                A promise of a new residence & citizenship in heaven was given to all who believed & received the offer–and once it was received this security (of life) deposit could not be taken away (John 3:16; Eph. 1:13-14, 2:19; 2 Cor. 5:5; Phil. 3:20-21). They received direction & guidance (including ways to protect themselves in their present environment) from a living handbook (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 6:10-18). These new citizens of heaven know that when their earthly house (their tent), is destroyed, they’ll have a building from God. A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For this they groan as they earnestly desire to be clothed with their heavenly habitation while still being burdened as they wait for mortality to be swallowed up by life (2 Cor. 5:1-4). Their sights have been readjusted on things above, making it bearable for them to walk with endurance & victory in the present fallen world where they walk by faith (Col. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:7-11, 16-18, 5:8).

                So if you haven’t already joined them, consider it so you too can have the hope of a new change of wardrobe from a corrupt outdated body of humiliation to a timeless & gloriously fashioned one like the body of His glory.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that’s written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” (1 Cor. 15:42-49, 54). Hallelujah!

Laura

 

Sow You Want to Bear Fruit?

tree-that-bears-fruitSpring is in the air–literally–as there is a special sublime smell in the air as the earth, which has been frozen & dormant over winter, warms up and reaches a temperature for plants to flourish. It’s also the time when the axis of the earth increases its tilt relative to the sun so the days are filled with light longer. This combination of events causes flowers & plants to “spring forth”. It’s a perfect time to sow seeds–which brings me to the parable Jesus told in Luke 8:4-15:

                A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell by the wayside and were trampled down & eaten by the birds. Some fell on rock and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.          

                After hearing this parable, the disciples of Jesus asked him the meaning, which he explained:

  • The seed = the word of God
  • Seed that fell by the wayside = those who hear the word but the devil is able to steal the word away out of their hearts otherwise they would believe & be saved.
  • Seed that fell on the rock = those who when they hear, they receive the word with joy but because they have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
  • Seed that fell among thorns = those when they hear the word go out and are choked with the cares, riches & pleasures of life and are unable to bring fruit to maturity.
  • Seed that falls on the good ground = those who, having heard the word with a noble & good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

                HAPPY IS THE MAN who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly (lawless), nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers; but HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD, and in HIS LAW HE MEDITATES DAY & NIGHT (continually & habitually). He will be like a TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER, that brings forth its FRUIT IN ITS SEASON, whose LEAF also WILL NOT WITHER; and whatever he does will prosper (Psalm 1:2-3).

                UNHAPPY ARE THE WICKED as chaff that the wind drives away…and will perish (Ps. 1:5-6).

 The ideal conditions for a plant to grow are: sufficient sunlight, good soil, water, & protection from bugs, pests & weeds.

The ideal conditions for a Christian to grow are:

  • Sufficient Son light (John 1:4, 8:12),
  • Good soil (make sure to be rooted & built up in Christ–grounded in love) so that Christ may dwell in your heart through an established faith (Col. 2:7, Eph. 3:17),
  • Good source of water (John 4:14, 7:38),
  • Protection from bugs, pests & weeds (Eph. 6:10-18).

Some other Tips:

  1. To be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, add to your faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, & love (2 Peter 1:5-8).
  2. Prune away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice & evil speaking (Eph. 4:31) and be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) (Gal. 5:22-23).
  3. Don’t get rooted in bitterness (Heb. 12:15) or the love of money (1 Tim. 6:10).
  4. Don’t be deceived–whatever a man sows he will also reap, so avoid sowing in discord, strife & iniquity as they’ll lead to sorrow (Gal. 6:7-8; Prov. 6:14, 19, 16:28, 22:8).

Grow happily in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen (2 Peter 3:18).               Laura    🙂

1st Presidential Inaugural Address

george-washington-webIn his Inaugural Address to both Houses of Congress, April 30, 1789, George Washington proclaimed:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

…Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

…Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

George Washington

Best Plan Ever

john-3-16-web-print-horiz“The heart is deceitful (crooked) above all things, and desperately sick with an incurable disease”

(Jer. 17:9).  Even a reformed healthcare system can’t fix it.

But we’ve been offered a new plan that works from the inside out and ultimately promises a total transformation (Phil. 3:20-21, 1 Cor. 15:49, 53-57). Partakers of this new plan will experience powerful renewal & strength internally as their mind is transformed to a superior way of thinking (Eph. 3:16, 19; Col. 3:10).

                You see we’ve been offered an amazing gift from a beneficent God in the form of His only begotten Son. For those who accept this precious, indescribable, free offer they will receive (1) irrevocable eternal life assurance (Eph. 1:13) and (2) bonus benefit of a new nature that can be redeemed & utilized immediately (2 Cor. 9:15, Eph. 2:8, John 3:16, 1 Tim. 4:8, Rom. 5:18-19, 6:23). This is a free deal! A universal plan (no exclusions) open to all who accept the offer (John 3:16). There are no premiums or deductibles and no need to be concerned about a pre-existing condition as it’s waived upon acceptance (2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 7:24, Col. 2:14, Rom. 3:19-26)!

Read on for more details regarding the plan.

 New Nature portion of the Plan (Follow for optimal results):

By accepting this new winning plan the member immediately receives the flawless designed New Nature (Eph. 4:24, 2 Cor. 5:17). As the instructions in the manual are followed correctly the member will be able to deal with everything this life throws their way (Refer to sections: John 16:33, 1 John 5:4, 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:15-17, 1 Cor. 2:16, Phil. 4:9).

  • DETOXIFICATION IS A MUST. Members of the new plan must rid the body of toxins from the old diseased nature (Eph. 4:22). (It isn’t profitable to leave in the system-John 6:63, Rom. 7:18.) Purge: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, conceit, provocations, envying, evil desire, covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying… (Ga. 5:19-21, Col. 3:1-9). Repeat detox as necessary to eliminate toxins as they re-emerge.
  • DAILY MIND RENEWAL VITAL. After the old is purged, the member will want to renew their mind to be in accordance with the new plan (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:10, 1 Cor. 2:16). Full coverage will take effect as all the required items of protection are put on (See Eph. 6:13-17). These will act as antigens and protection against the onslaught of unseen elements in the present fallen environment (Eph. 6:11-12, 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Full & fruitful benefits of: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control along with tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance & forgiveness will be reaped (Gal. 5:22-23, Col. 3:12-13) enabling the member to effectively cope in the new man mode.
  • PREVENTIVE CARE: The outward is dying so physical training will be of some value, but spiritual training for the inner man will have value for all things in this life & the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8, 2 Cor. 4:16)–so don’t waste too much time at the gym.
  • AVOID ADDED STRESS & STEER CLEAR of exposure to profane & idle chatter as well as divisive disputes & arguments over words which come from toxic sources that try to entangle members into worldly affairs (1 Tim. 6:4-5, 20, 2 Tim. 2:4, Rom. 16:17).
  • MAINTAIN FOCUS on things above (Col. 3:2) and what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). This will keep the mind at peace.
  • IF FEAR & ANXIETY SET IN refer to these sections of the manual: 1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7, 1 John 4:8, 2 Tim. 1:7, Rom. 8:6, Col. 3:15 and it will subside.
  • 24/7 CARE: See sections: Romans 8:26-27, 34 & Jeremiah 33:3.

A loving, merciful God has offered an amazing plan.

What are you waiting for? Act today and reap the benefits now & eternally! 

Laura

 

CHOOSE LOVE

The purpose of creating this piece of Martin Luther King Jr was to focus on his message of love & forgiveness. In his time he had every reason to be bitter & hate but he chose love over hate & peace over conflict. He was not a perfect man but chose to handle himself in a way that has garnered respect many decades after his death. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness”. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Lets choose to live together as brothers instead of perish together as fools. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”martin-luther-king-jr-web-print

BECOMING UPWARDLY MOBILE

Rock that is Higher
Rock that is Higher by Laura Kestly

The Christian life, like mountain climbing, is all about challenge and perseverance–not everyone will reach the summit. It’s akin to a mountaineering expedition that many are content with staying at a low altitude. It’s a wonderful (or as my Grandma would say, “Marvelous”) thing to be saved purely by grace from a loving & merciful God for all that receive it by faith. Thankfully, salvation does come by grace rather than by our works of any kind & we can feel secure that it won’t be taken away (It’s a sealed deal-Eph. 2:8-9, 1:13). Sadly many Christians stop here (at the base) and set up camp. They never desire ‘things above’ or to become “upwardly” mobile (Col. 3:1-2). Some seem content as the Israelites were with their captivity in Egypt. The hazards of “falling rocks” & “avalanches” in their lives keep them at base camp rather than ascending toward the summit.

                To know and be secure in one’s salvation is a glorious thing and it should propel the believer toward good works. After all we are God’s workmanship & He even prepared ahead of time what our good works will be. He’s just waiting for us to walk in them (Eph. 2:10). Even though God has equipped us with all the proper gear that’s needed for our climb, we need to be willing to ‘work out’ what He’s already ‘worked in’–doing so with fear & trembling as a prize awaits to be won & a crown to be gained–but no man is crowned unless he strives within the rules (Phil. 2:12-13, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 2 Tim. 2:5). The outworking comes as the hideousness of sin is exposed and the mind is renewed & understands what the good, acceptable & perfect will of God is (Rom. 12:2). All these the Lord uses to influence those willing to ascend to a Rock that is Higher (Ps. 61:2).

            BEWARE: LET NO ONE CHEAT YOU OF YOUR REWARD

            It isn’t just the obvious hazards of the climb that keep believers camped out. Satan doesn’t need to waste his time & energy in trying to deprive the believer of his acceptance in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6) as his life is ‘hid with Christ in God’–in the shadow of His wings (Col. 3:3, Ps. 91:1-2, 4). So Satan invests his time in trying to deceive the believer to turn away from the fullness of Christ—causing him to release his grip from the ‘Head’ (like gear protection from falling). The enemy accomplishes this through diversion–tricking the believer to be occupied with the philosophy & empty deceit of men & the basic principles of the world. This includes deluding the believer to delight in false humility, the worship of angels & be brainwashed into obeying the regulations according to the commandments & doctrines of men. These are only a facade of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, & neglect of the body, but are worthless protection against the indulgence of the flesh. Thus the devil’s scheme has effectively dishonored the believer and cheated them out of their reward. Their prize is lost & above all the Savior robbed–for what is a crown to the believer but an added crown to Him?” (Col. 2:1-10, 16-23). It’s not surprising that many have fallen off course in a society where instant gratification is promulgated whereas the reward in God’s economy goes to those who patiently suffer (Phil. 3:19, Heb. 12:1-2).

FOCUS on Upward Mobility. Avoid falling back. Look to the Rock that is Higher than you–where your true citizenship is (Ps. 61:2, Col. 3:2-3, Phil. 3:20-21). Be like the apostle Paul who desired to know what it was like ‘to walk in Christ’s shoes’ which involved a deep, personal relationship that was willing to partake of Christ’s suffering & shame–a fellowship & conformity that knew that the prize, reward and crown were worth the steep climb! So forget those things which are behind & reach forward to those things which are ahead–Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14)! If we endure, we will also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you (Phi. 4:13)–So Ascend!      Laura

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

o-come-let-us-adore-him-webFor most, it’s far easier to grasp God as the Creator of the majestic mountains, the delicate flowers and the patterned butterfly than as a baby in a lowly manger.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

A few years back when my husband & I took a trip to Arizona for our 25th wedding anniversary we road-tripped to the Grand Canyon. As we stood on the rim of the canyon and gazed first-hand at its majesty, it was awe-inspiring & breath-taking.

                All creation bears God’s handiwork and the imprint of His touch as His eternal power & divine nature are revealed (Rom. 1:19-20). Pattern and purpose are visible everywhere–from the intricate design of a flower and butterfly to the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning & reproduction of the human body, as well as the reliable & orchestrated rising & setting of the sun.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

Purposefully God revealed Himself in the likeness of man (Hebrews 1:1-4).

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

–The same Word that is the invisible God.

–The same Word that is before all things & in Him, all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17).

–The same Word that upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

–The same Word, who being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-7), being born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7).

Why?

                God chose to take on the likeness of man and suffer to pay the penalty (wages) of sin for man, which was death (on the cross), so that man could be redeemed through His blood (saved/released from the power & fear of death) and be reconciled to enjoy eternal life with Him (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, Col. 1:19-22, Eph. 1:7, 2:13-19, Col. 2:13-15, Heb. 2:9).

                God revealed this great LOVE for man (even while man was dead in trespasses) because He so LOVED the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Eph. 2:4, John 3:16). It’s by grace man has been saved through faith (not of man’s doing)—it’s the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). But to enjoy a gift, one must first receive it–and this one through faith. Faith receives the gift that is undeserved.

                When God came as a baby thousands of years ago, He wasn’t well received (except for some angels, shepherds and wise men)–But after Christ died & was raised from the dead, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Col. 2:12, Phil. 2:9-11).

 O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant–

O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

  Laura