Rest Requires Accountability

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Yesterday we looked at how the Word of God produces the rest of faith. Verse 12 tells us that the Word is like a scalpel that cuts open our lives to reveal what may be hindering and then cuts out those hindrances so that we can be whole and productive. We also looked at Mark 4 and Jesus’ teaching concerning the Word of God as a seed and the heart of man as the soil.

Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is a living thing. We need to remember that. It is not just a book or a theological handbook. It is alive with the life of God. The nature of that life is seed life. Just as the earth was designed to interact with natural seeds to produce a crop, our hearts were designed to interact with the seed life in the Word of God to produce the life of God in us. We need to remember that just as a natural seed takes time to grow, so does a spiritual seed. We must keep the seed in the ground while we wait on the Lord. If we keep the conditions right for growth, we will eventually see the fruit. That fruit is the rest of faith we have been talking about.

Today I want to spend a few moments on verse 13. We saw that the Word of God here is not called “it” in this sentence. The pronouns used to describe the Word are “his” and “him.” The Word and The Lord are one. We looked at John 1:1 where the bible tells us the “Word was with God and the Word was God.” That does not mean the book is God. It means the book contains the life of God.

In the end of this verse, Paul gives us some important insights. Look at what it says in the Young Literal Translation.

Hebrews 4:13 (YLT)13 and there is not a created thing not manifest before Him, but all things are naked and open to His eyes–with whom is our reckoning.

We must realize that nothing is hidden from God. It is no coincidence that the word “naked” is used here. There are very few people in the world who really do look good without clothes. That is because cloths cover all the flaws. You may look great in the right clothes but if we strip away the covering all the ugly imperfections come bursting through.

That is what he is talking about here. We cannot hide anything from the Lord. All the “warts and bulges” are exposed to him. All the hurts and needs shine forth before his eyes. He knows you. He knows what you need. He knows where you are weak and where you are strong. He knows your failures and your success. There is nothing hidden from his sight. The good news is that He is your loving Father and his only motivation is bring you into the highest good for your life.

While we must remember that God loves us with an everlasting love and that his mercy endures forever, there is more to this scripture. The NKJV says that we must give account to the Lord. In the context of this verse, we must give account to the Word.

I believe accountability is under attack in our world. As we watch the news, we see violence all over the world and all over the United States. Part of the problem is that no one wants to be accountable. The popular teaching today is that nothing is the individual’s fault. The blame is placed on race, education or family relations. Some people are disadvantaged so they should not be held accountable for their actions.

We see this extended to government. Politicians are not held accountable for their actions. That used to be one of the roles of the free press in our nation. Now the press only holds the people they disagree with accountable and often for things they never did. The party that the reporter or news organization favors is never called to account. Instead, the questions they are asked cover the transgressions and mislead people into a false sense of who the political figures are.

There is a lack of accountability in the home. Marriage has become something we do for a time and when the “going gets rough,” we get going to someone else. Marriage is a covenant established by God and we need to be accountable to each other for the actions that would break that covenant. Instead we rationalize and justify and move on to the next partner.

There is also lack of accountability between parents and children. Parents are not allowed to discipline their children biblically. The children can report their own parents for abuse when there is none. Onlookers, who know nothing of the situation will get involved between parents and children and cause problems. No one believes children should be abused and if we see abuse, we should hold parents accountable. However, the atmosphere that has been created leads to a generation of children who are undisciplined. Schools cannot even teach because of it.

All of this adds to the entitlement mentality that is gaining dominance today. All people think they deserve all things. They should not answer for bad performance at work or criminal behavior in society. Young people should not have to grow up and earn what they get. It should be handed to them on a silver platter. All punishment is wrong and all bad behavior has a cause that is outside the control of the doer.

This is not the bible. This verse says we must give account to God. Young’s Literal Translation is even stronger. He says that there is a reckoning with God. This reckoning comes for the whole world comes at the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, there is a reckoning for us today. What have we done with the Word? Have we obeyed the Lord? Have we lived according to the precepts of the Word of God? The answer determines if we will enter the rest of faith.

Hebrews 2:2-3 (NKJV) 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

That verse may seem a little harsh but it is in the bible. How shall we escape accountability if we neglect the salvation that was purchased by the blood of Jesus? This is certainly talking about receiving Jesus as Lord and being born again. I also believe we can apply this to our daily salvation. If we neglect what Jesus has provided us in our daily living it does not mean we will go to hell. It does mean that we will not have or be what Jesus wants for us. It also means we will not be able to enter the rest of faith.

Accountability and rest go hand in hand. When I know I have fulfilled my obligations and am walking correctly towards my wife I am at rest in our relationship. If I have been unfaithful (never was and never will be, by the way) I will not be at rest in her presence. I will wonder what the future of our relationship might be.

The same is true for parents and children. When we have fulfilled our accountability towards one another, we have rest. If I have wronged my children or they have done something wrong before me, we are not at rest. We live on edge wondering what will happen if our transgression is discovered. If I have been accountable, my transgressions are dealt with between the affected parties. Once that is done, they have no power over me.

We could apply this to government, school or job. In any area where relationship is part of the equation we will find that accountability promotes rest and the opposite promotes distrust, strife and unrest. Nowhere is this more important than in our relationship with the Lord. (1 John 3:20-21)

The Seed and the Ground Will Work Together to Produce the Rest

Hebrews 4:13 (KJV) 13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Last week we looked at how the Word of God works to bring about the rest of faith in our lives.  Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is able to pierce to the dividing asunder of various areas of a person.  The idea is that of a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon.  The Word is designed by God to open up our lives so that whatever is hindering us may be revealed.  It will then cut out, or separate and define, what needs to change so that healing, freedom and wholeness can come to us.

Verse 13 continues the same thought as verse 12.  He is still talking about the Word of God.  The interesting thing is how he refers to the Word.  We would say that nothing is hidden from it, referring to the Word.  This verse uses the pronouns “him” and “his” when referring to the Word of God.  The Word is the scalpel but it is also the surgeon.

John 1:1 (KJV) 1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This verse does not mean that the book itself is a God.  That would be idolatry.  It means that the bible is full of the life of God.  It is full of a supernatural energy that God applies to us to set us free.  Mark chapter 4 tells us that the Word of God is a seed.

Mark 4:13-14 (NKJV) 13  And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14  The sower sows the word.

This parable is one of my favorite studies in the bible.  The life in the Word of God is “seed life.”  The ground is the heart of man.  The same heart spoken of in Hebrews 4:12.  When a seed is planted in the ground, it produces whatever life the seed contains.  In the case of the Word of God, it produces the life of God.  The Word “was God.”  The acorn (oak seed) was oak.  The seed of God’s word planted in our hearts will produce the life of God that is in it.

John 1:14 (NKJV) 14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Just as the seed of the Word of God created Jesus in Mary’s womb and just as we were “born again” by that same seed, the seed of God’s Word will produce life in every area of our lives. (1 Peter 1:23)  By the seed action of the Word in our hearts, we will become the Word made flesh.  As more and more of what we are is transformed into the life of the Word of God, the more we will enter the rest promised in Hebrews 4.

Now do not go somewhere I am not taking you.  I am not saying we will become God.  There is only one of those and, as for me; I do not want the job.  What I am saying is that the life in the Word of God will change us until we become what the Word says we can be.  Our mourning will turn into joy.  Our defeat will change to victory, etc.  It is possible, if we allow the seed of the Word to have its way in us that we can reflect all that the bible says we are and we can do in this life.

Mark 4:26-28 gives us a picture of how the seed works in our hearts.  .

Mark 4:26-29 (NKJV) 26  And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27  and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

In Hebrews 4, the Word is a scalpel that is producing healing.  It reveals and removes that which hinders.  In Mark 4, the image is of the action of the seed.  This is how the life of God is produced in the human being.  Both involve penetrating and separating: The scalpel to reveal, the seed to release life.

In this parable, Jesus tells us that we need to get the seed in the ground.  How do we do that?  Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  The rest of Faith is what we have been discussing.  We get the Word in the ground by hearing it.  We may hear it with our ears as it is preached or read.  We may also “hear” it with our eyes as we read it.  The point is that it must enter our heart by going into our mind through the gate of our senses.

Verse 27 says that the farmer must “sleep by day and rise by night” in order for the seed to sprout and grow.  What does this mean to us?  Seeds take time to reveal the life that is in them.  At first, you do not see any results but they are working in the ground.  You have to leave them there or they cannot produce.  It would be a foolish farmer that dug up his seed every morning and every evening to see if anything was happening.  If he did that, he would guarantee there would be no crop.

If the seed stays in the soil, is watered properly and gets enough sun (the presence of the Son) it will grown.  This scripture says it produces life of itself.  You do not have to make it grow.  You just have to maintain the right conditions.  The seed and the earth are designed to interact and they will produce fruit.  The Word of God and your heart are designed to interact and they will produce the fruit of God’s Word.

How do we keep the Word in our hearts?  Joshua 1:8 tells us.

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) 8  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

We must meditate on the Word by keeping it in our minds and our mouths.  It is not enough to hear a sermon preached once or just read a verse or two.  We must learn to meditate on the word.  We must think about it during the week.  We must ask ourselves how the Word applies to our lives.

What happens when a seed starts to grow?  It does not give us food or flowers right away.  We do not see the outward manifestation but it does not take long for the seed to start to affect the ground.  The roots begin to grow down seeking water.  They cut through the ground displacing anything that gets in the way.  When they reach water, the roots begin to channel the life of the water into the rest of the plant.  As long as the conditions stay right and the plant stays in the ground, fruit will eventually result.

The Word works the same way in our hearts.  Just as the scalpel cuts away hindrances, the seed of the Word will dig into our hearts pushing aside the dirt and debris that keeps us from walking in the life of God.  It is looking for that part of us that is “born again” in the spirit.  That is where God lives inside us.  When the roots of the “Word” seed connect with the life of God within us, that life begins to flow up into our minds and eventually manifests in our outward life.

We will whatever fruit we planted.  If we planted joy, we will see joy.  If we planted healing, we will see healing.  If we planted holiness, sin will begin to fall away.  It will start small.  It will be just a little bud in our lives but if we keep the word in the ground, the full fruit will eventually manifest.  That is the point of rest we are seeking.

Joints Marrow Thoughts and Intents

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Yesterday we looked at two areas that are divided by the scalpel of the Word of God. The Word of God is the first key to entering the rest of faith. One of the ways it enables us to enter the rest is to open our lives so that we can see the things that are hindering us. It then cuts out those things, freeing us to walk in the rest of faith in God.

This verse says that the scalpel pierces or cuts to the division of several things. The first is the division of soul and spirit. The word separates between those thoughts that are ours and those that come from the Lord. That which is strictly of the soul is what comes from our own mind. Thoughts, impressions and words that come from our spirit are the ones inspired by God. Knowing the difference will help us rest because we will be sure that the words we are resting in really do come from God.

Today I want to look at the next two things in this list. The Word of God will also divide the joints and marrow. The Greek word translated joints here carries the idea of articulation. The definition of articulation that applies is “the connection of the different parts of something by joints, or the way the parts fit together.” Joints enable us to move. I believe Paul is speaking of how we move through life. He is speaking of everyday living.

Sometimes we live on autopilot. We do what we do because it needs to be done. That is normal and unavoidable. I believe one of the biggest problems we have in life today is unrealistic expectations. That does not mean God cannot do big things in our lives. We just need to let him determine how to define big.

The expectations I am speaking of are the ones that tend to come from the media images with which we are bombarded on a daily basis. We see lives that are unrealistically exciting or dramatic. We see people that are unrealistically beautiful. We have unrealistic portrayals of love and romance. Then we look at our lives. Our jobs are not that exciting. Our spouse does not look like the people on TV. We do not jet off to exotic places and have exciting adventures. We do not deal with and overcome tragedy every week.

All of the good and bad things we experience are the joints. All of the mundane everyday things are the joints of life. Sometimes joints are overwhelming and sometimes they are distractions. Many times, they keep us going in the momentum of life. On the one hand, they keep us from quitting. On the other hand, they can keep us from hearing God’s voice and resting in faith.

If the joints represent our movement through life, what does the marrow represent? Marrow is where our blood is formed. The bible tells us that the life is in the blood. I would submit to you that the marrow represents our true life. While we need the joints to give us movement in life, the marrow is the source of our life. Without the marrow, the joints would have no function.

The Word of God has the capacity to separate what is real life from what is just our movement through life. When we know the life that God gives, the distractions of the world will not disturb our rest of faith. The unrealistic lives we see in the media cannot compare with the power and joy of a life lived in the light of God’s Word. When we are living “from the marrow” so to speak, the everyday can be as exciting and more fulfilling than the unreal we visit for entertainment. When we recognize what is “marrow life” and are able to distinguish it from “joint life”, we will be more able to enter the rest of faith.

Finally, the Word of God can differentiate between our thoughts and intents of the heart. To understand this we must know what the heart is. In this verse there are three distinct Greek words translated as soul, spirit and heart. They each mean something different.

The soul is our intellect, emotions and will. It is the part of us that interacts with the intellectual realm. The spirit is the inner man. It is the part that interacts with the spirit of God. While the soul is the seat of emotion and intellect, the spirit is the seat of the fruit of the Spirit, such as faith, hope and love. All that we hear from God comes from the spirit. If we are going to enter the rest, the Word of God must connect with the spirit so the fruit can manifest in the outward life.

What, then, is the heart? It is neither the soul nor the spirit as it is a different word. The Greek word used here is “kardia” from which we get the word cardiac. The heart is the center of a thing. The word “kardia” is defined as in Strong’s concordance as the heart, i.e. (figurative) the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by analogy) the middle.

As I studied this verse, it occurred to me that if soul and spirit can be divided there must be a place where they are connected. Where is that place. I believe it is the heart. I think the heart is what science calls the subconscious. It is the deepest part of the soul. Every word spoken to us and every experience we have ever had is stored there. They may not be in our active memory but they make up the underpinning of all we believe about ourselves and of our view of life.

The Word of God has the ability to cut into our hearts. It separates what we think from how we think. How we think could be called “intents of the heart.” How we think determines how we react to life. The glasses our heart creates always color our surface thoughts we think. Many times, we cannot enter the rest of faith because the intents of our heart hinder us from receiving from the Word of God.

The Word helps us by putting our thoughts and the intents of our hearts in proper perspective. It can rewrite the “hard drive” of our lives so that we can respond to God and his Word according to the truth rather than our perspective of the truth. Look at Paul’s words in Romans.

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

When we are believe on Jesus, we are instantly made new creatures in Christ Jesus. Our spirits are “born again” and all things become instantly new. The problem is that we are left with the old “hard drive.” Our minds need to be renewed. The renewing of our minds will lead to the total transformation that extends from the spirit into the soul finally to expressed in the outward life we live in our body. The Word of God has been designed by God to accomplish this task.

The result of a renewed mind at the heart level is the ability to rest in faith. The voices that scream at us to worry and doubt will be silenced. The experiences from our past that get in the way of our acceptance of the truth of the Word of God will no longer hinder our responses to life. We will rest in the knowledge that God and his Word are able to keep us, bless us and bring victory into our lives.

The Word Divides Soul and Spirit

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Yesterday we looked at this verse to discover how the Word of works to produce the rest of faith. The bible says the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword. We likened that to a surgeon’s scalpel. A scalpel is a precise instrument. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, a scalpel opens the body to expose what is wrong and then cuts out the diseased parts to bring healing to the whole body. Although there may be pain involved, the intended result is healing.

The Word of God functions in much the same way. The Word is the scalpel and the Holy Spirit is the surgeon. One of the ways that the Word produces the rest of faith is to open up our lives and expose the things that are hurting us. Then the Surgeon uses the scalpel to cut out things that are either not healthy or simply hindering our faith from producing fruit.

The process is sometimes difficult and painful. I do not believe it has to be. If we cooperate with the “Great Physician” and let him do his work, I do not believe the pain will be so great nor the healing time so long. It is when we try to hold on to what is being cut away that we suffer. Either way, the intent of the Lord is to bring wholeness, not just healing, into our lives.

Jesus says much the same thing in John 15.

John 15:1-2 (NKJV) 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Here Jesus is speaking of vines and branches. Branches that are unfruitful are taken away. Dead branches on a tree hinder the flow of life to the whole tree. When they are removed, cut off, the tree becomes healthier. Fruitful branches need to be pruned. This process also involves cutting. Although the branch may be fruitful, if there are parts of the branch that are not producing they steal life from the productive parts. Pruning the branch by cutting away what is unfruitful increases the overall production of the tree. In verse 7, Jesus says, “If you abide in me and my Words abide in you…..” It is the Word that does the cutting.

Before the surgeon cuts anything out of the body he opens it to see what is going in inside. The Word of God has the power look into our hearts and see what is really going on inside. Most of us will attest to the fact that we usually do not know what is hindering our faith. We have the promise. We may even be meditating on the promise we find in the bible. Yet we do not see the result and we do not know why.

Although building faith in the promise is important, that is not all the Word does to produce rest. If we give ourselves to the Word, it will begin to reveal what is hindering us from receiving. For instance, we may be praying for healing. As we meditate in the Word, the Lord may lead us to other scriptures on forgiveness. We may not understand what these verses have to do with healing. If we allow the scalpel to do its work we will find that we are not healed because we have not forgiven.

We may be praying for financial blessing and we seem to find scriptures on attitudes that seem unrelated. If we continue to be led by the Spirit, we will find that the attitudes he is pointing out are the things that have kept us from the promise of financial blessing. We could look at many other examples but I think you understand.

As I was reading this, the specific things that are being divided caught my attention. I decided to look up the words. What I found was interesting. First, we see that the word divides “soul and spirit.” The Greek words are “psyche” and “pneuma.” Psyche is defined as the “animal sentient thought.” It is also translated the soul. We get words such as psychology from this root word.

Pneuma also carries the idea of thought but of a higher nature. Its primary idea is of breath or a breeze. The Holy Ghost is the Holy “Pneuma.” Our words like pneumatic, meaning something driven by air comes from pneuma. What is the Word of God really separating here?

I believe the “soul” is that part of our being that deals with the mental and emotional. It is the place where our thoughts reside. It is neither good nor bad. It is a place we process information. It is the place from which our emotions flow. It is also the place that determines our strength of will and how we use it. The “spirit” on the other hand is the place where we are connected to God. In Genesis 2, God breathed into Adam the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7) I believe the spirit of man is the part created in the “image and likeness of God.” (Genesis 1:26)

It is in the spirit that we hear God. The thoughts that come from our spirits are the thoughts that come from the Lord. We hear these “higher thoughts” in our mind. The voice we hear will be the same as the voice we hear for our own thoughts. Therein lies the problem. How do I tell what thoughts are mine and what thoughts are Gods. The answer is the Word of God.

Part of how the scalpel of the Word brings us to the rest of faith is by discerning between our thoughts and God’s thoughts. Have you ever said, “I thought I heard God say this but I don’t know if it is really God or just me?” How can we be sure? The Word of God is designed to separate between the two.

There are some obvious ways that the Word does this. For instance, the more we fill our mind with God’s written words from the Bible, the easier it will be to discern God’s spoken words that come from our spirit. I have been with my wife since I was 13 and she was 16. I am now 61. I know my wife’s voice. Even if the words are written down, I can identify if they are hers or not. The same is true, if in reverse, about the written Word of God and his voice. The more I fill my heart and mind with the written Word, the more I will be able to separate my words from his Words.

That is part of how the word separates soul and spirit. I believe there is much more. The Word is alive. It is not just a book. It has a power that comes from God to enable us to distinguish what comes from our own mind and what comes from God. I do not fully understand it nor can I really explain it. I just know that it is true and I know I must submit to the process.

Keep your mind in the Word. It will begin to clarify what is you and what is God. As that happens you will be able to rest in faith because you will know that you know what God has spoken and you will not rest until you see it come to pass in your life.

More tomorrow.

The Word of God and the Rest of Faith

Hebrews 4:11-12 (NKJV) 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

(Be sure to check out my wife, Pastor Elaine Kiefer’s Mothers Day message. You can find it on our website, Go to the media page and look under this month or under May if you are seeing this later in the year. You can also find it by clicking on the Podcast link. I gave you a taste last week, but there is more that you don’t want to miss!)

Over the course of 2015, we have been discussing the fact that God is ready to pour out his spirit on the earth once again. I think it is interesting that the first message to the church declared that God would do just that.

Acts 2:14-17 (NKJV) 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

A case might be made that the outpouring on the day of Pentecost fulfilled Peter’s prophetic message. However, in the second recorded message of the church age Peter indicates that Jesus will not come until there have been multiple “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19-21) This process would continue until all that Jesus initiated in the church was restored.

By the time Martin Luther appeared on the scene in the 1500’s most of what Jesus introduced was gone. From the time of the protestant reformation until today the process of God sending times of refreshing that led to restoration of lost truth and experience has continued. As I have studied this process, I have become convinced that we are in the last of the last days.

In principle, God has restored most of what was lost in the first 1500 years of the church. To my way of thinking, this would indicate that the next time of refreshing, the next great move of God in the earth, could be the last. God wants to open the supernatural gates of heaven once again and pour out his spirit upon all flesh just as Peter preached in that very first message of the church age. We must recognize that the Spirit of God dwells in us. If he is going to open supernatural gates, the gates he opens will be the hearts of his people, the church.

We have found from Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 that one of the most important keys to becoming the open gates is the rest of faith. Hebrews 4:11 tells us to labor so that we can enter the rest. The context of Hebrews 4 makes it clear to me that the rest he is talking about is the rest of faith.

Please go back a few weeks and read what I have posted about this rest if you have not already done so. For now let me say that the rest of faith is that place we come to when we are no longer trying to believe but we actually believe that the God is at work in our lives. Hebrews 4:10 tells us we have entered the rest when we cease from our own works. I would say it this way. We are at rest when we are in real faith because faith and the word of God are doing the work, not us.

How do we enter this rest? The rest of this chapter contains two revelations that are key to entering the rest. The first is in verse 12 quoted above. Verse 11 exhorts us to be diligent to enter that rest because if we do not we could fall or fail. I do not want to fail. I do not want you to fail. Verse 12 begins with the words “For the word of God…..”

This is not coincidental. The first thing we must focus upon if we are ever going to enter the rest of faith is the Word of God. Last month I touched on this. The word of God is powerful. The amplified says it is active. If we are going to enter the rest of faith, we must become established in that fact. The Word of God is working in my life, period! It does not matter what I see, what I hear or what I feel. The Word of God will not return void. It will accomplish what God sends it to do. (Is. 55:8-11)

How does the Word of God bring us to the rest of faith? There is a great deal to the answer to that question but let us begin with verse 12. The word of God is not only alive but it is sharper than any two edged sword. One way to look at the action of the Word in our lives is the way we might view a surgeon’s scalpel.

A scalpel is a tool that cuts into the flesh. Under almost any other circumstances and in any other hands, a knife cutting into our flesh would be a frightening thing. However, in the hands of a surgeon it is not a tool to hurt but to heal.

A scalpel is also a very precise tool. You would not want to see a meat cleaver or a butcher knife in the hands of the surgeon as they put you under the anesthetic! The scalpel is designed to cut only what the doctor knows needs to be cut. It opens up the flesh so that he can see what is wrong and then cuts out only the parts that are diseased. The Word of God is like the surgeon’s scalpel and the Holy Spirit is the surgeon.

The Word will penetrate into our lives and expose the things that are hindering us from what God has for us. If we let the Word work and do our best to cooperate with the process, it will cut out what is unhealthy and bring healing. As we allow the surgeon’s scalpel to work, more and more of our life will come into line with the image God has of what we should be.

When that happens, faith rises and we will enter the rest. When we enter the rest of faith, anything that is the will of God becomes not only possible but also inevitable. Most of the time we resist this part of the work of the Word of God and as a result we do not enter the rest and we do not receive all God has for us. I do not know about you, but I want the former not the latter.

Sometimes the process is painful. In the natural, if the doctor told you that you had cancer but it was operable, you would let the doctor perform the surgery. You would know that a painful recovery could be the result. However, without the surgery you would die. The same is true of the scalpel of the Word of God. However, any pain that leads to healing is preferable to the alternative.

It is interesting that that oath doctors take does not say they will cause no pain. It says they will cause no harm. Sometimes it is harmful to refrain from causing pain. Rest assured that the scalpel in the hand of God my cause pain but it would never cause harm. The heavenly surgeon always brings us to wholeness and the fullness of his will for our lives.

We Must Train our Children to Fear the Lord

Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV) 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

We have been looking this week at the role of parents in making sure there is a remnant that will remain in the earth to carry out the will of God. We began in Romans 9:29 where Paul quotes Isaiah. Both of them are expressing concern for the Israel of their day. I believe the same concern exists for the church today. This verse says that if Israel had not had a remnant who continued to believe God and walk in his ways, they would have ended up like Sodom and Gomorrah. They would have been destroyed and missed the special place God had for them in his plan.

The church seems to be drifting farther away from the ideals and principles upon which Jesus founded it. I believe we are in danger of losing the power and lifestyle that has always set the church apart from the rest of the world. Without that, we cannot fulfill the great commission. The key to seeing to it that God always has a remnant is the family. That is why the devil is so against families.

Yesterday we focused on the need for parents to train their children in the things of God. Today’s scriptures highlights a specific area in which our children need training if they are going to be the remnant God needs to accomplish his purpose in the world.

In Proverbs 1:7 we find that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. We need to teach our children the fear of the Lord. That is not to say that we should teach them to be afraid of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is not something that causes his children to be afraid of his presence. It is not really about being afraid of punishment. The fear of the Lord is a healthy awe of who God is and what he means in our lives.

Too often, the fear of the Lord is lost in our focus on personal relationship with God. We believe rightly that Christianity is about a relationship between a Father and his family. We teach how to come into His presence and experience his love. We talk about the term of endearment both Paul and Jesus used for God. They both used the word “Abba” to describe him. Abba is equivalent to our word “daddy.” We can have an intimate personal relationship with God. He is not an angry God looking for an excuse to destroy. He is a loving Father whose greatest desire is to bless his children.

While that is true, it is interesting to note that everywhere the word “Abba” or Daddy is used it is followed by Father. Father appears without “Abba” but not the other way around. To experience Abba we must submit to Father as well. We know this is true in an earthly family.

My children love me and I love them. They will all tell you that the one thing they always knew in good times and bad was that their parents loved them. They have no problem coming into my presence and enjoying sweet fellowship. We laugh together, play together and at times cry together. I am their Dad.

Nonetheless, there are things they would never do or say in my presence. There is a line of respect they would never cross. When they were little, I suspect they thought what most small children think. “My Daddy can do anything!” Those days are long gone. They know that I am not perfect. They know there are many things I cannot do. They even disagree with me at times. They will never disrespect me. There is a healthy respect and yes fear attached to me. I am their father not just their Dad!

We need to teach our children to respect the Lord. They need to know that God is not their “buddy.” God is the ruler of the universe. God is the creator of all things. He really can do anything. The bible says that it is only because of his mercy that we are not condemned. Thank God, there is no lack in his mercy, but that does not change the absolute awe and respect we should have for him. We should be afraid to displease him: Not because he will do something bad to us, but because of all the good he has done for us.

In a natural family, when a father or mother tries to be their children’s friend first and parent second, it usually ends badly. Children need parents to set the boundaries of life. When they are taught to respect Mother or Father, they will be able to enjoy Mommy and Daddy. When they are not taught the “fear of the parents” so to speak, their relationship with their parents will suffer. The same is true with the Father God.

God will be to us what we allow him to be. If he is only a friend, that is all he will be. If he is a nice Daddy who gives us only what we want, we do not understand him. If we fear him as the creator of the universe and the one who sets all standards of morality and culture, we will be able to come into his presence and not only enjoy him but also tap into the power of the creator. We will live according to his standards and principles because they are right and because we understand how great and wonderful our Abba, Father really is.

As in most things the key is balance. We need to know him as “Abba.” We need to know the gentle touch of his hand. We also need to know him as “Father” who is worthy of our respect and that kind of fear that reminds us he is not just anybody. He is my Father. He is my God. That is why we give him reverence as well as love.

In a generation that seems to have lost all respect, we must train our children to respect and reverence the Lord. We must do so by making sure our family relationships are in order. We must do so by teaching our children that they are accountable for what they do. We must teach them that the wages of sin is death, but that the free gift of God is life.

Hebrews 10:31 (NKJV) 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Some would like to eliminate verses like this from the Bible. They think they do not apply to New Testament believers. However, this is a New Testament verse. Scriptures like this will help us appreciate the wonderful Father and God we serve.

We need a remnant in the earth who still knows who God really is and fears him as the Lord of all the earth.

Take some time this week and read Romans chapter 1. See what Paul says about people who do not honor God as God. We do not want that for our children. We need them to rise up in faith and believe that God is still who he says he is and that he can do what he says he can do.

The Instruction of Fathers and the Law of Mothers

Proverbs 1:8 (NKJV) 8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;

Yesterday we looked at Romans 9:29. In this verse, Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah. Both of these great men of God express concern for the future of their people. They know that they are in danger of missing the destiny and blessing God has for them. The solution to the problem is that there is a remnant of people who still hear and believe in the Lord. I believe the church today faces the same danger.

This is not a new situation. The church has faced this many times and every time it has, God has found a remnant of people who would stand for the bible and the principles he has called man to follow. I believe today is no exception. There is still a remnant who declare that they will not “bow to the idols” of the world even if they have to burn with criticism and ridicule. (Daniel 3:16-18)

What will it take to ensure there is a remnant in the next generation? It will take fathers and mothers who will have the courage to teach their children the ways of the Lord. We must teach them by both word and deed. We must not compromise even when our children cry out that “everyone else does it” or “that’s just old fashioned.” There has always been this kind of tension between generations but today is different.

I believe that we are standing at the beginning of the next great move of God and the opposition from the enemy is greater than at any time in my life. I cannot imagine the world my grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in if God does not move now. I believe we have a remnant. I believe God will move but I believe we must train our children to continue to be that remnant if they are going to survive and thrive.

The book of proverbs is full of admonitions to parents and children. It tells children to listen to their parents and parents to teach and train their children. It gives us many specifics that we can share with them that will help them be the adults God needs in the world today. The verse above is one of them.

I find it interesting that the child is admonished to obey the father’s instruction but the writer speaks of not forsaking the law of the mother. We might think of it as the other way around. The father is supposed to discipline while the mother nurtures. In truth, one of the main roles of nurturing is to establish the boundaries of life for the children. I believe this is a vital aspect of parenthood and one that is lacking in today’s culture.

There is a controversy today in the church world concerning grace and law. While true grace must lead to a response that will cause us to “flee” sin, temptation and the devil, the message today seems to say something different. “Jesus paid for all sin so behavior doesn’t matter!” The argument is that since we are under grace and not law, we do not have to worry about keeping the law. Although I do not believe the intent of those who preach this is that people should sin, I do believe that people are using the message is presented as an excuse for behavior that brings compromise into their lives and into the church.

This is in direct contrast to this verse that tells us not to forsake the law of our mothers. We are not talking legal requirements here but the standards of behavior that will produce godly living. Grace does not excuse us from them. Neither does grace excuse us from the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, grace should lead us to a greater desire to walk “worthy of the calling with which we were called.” (Ephesians 4:1) It is in this same letter to the Ephesians that Paul exhorts both parents and children.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (NKJV) 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Children are called obey their parents in the Lord. How different is this from the current psychological and educational climate that encourages children to question their parents and obey the cultural mores over the instruction of their fathers and law of their mothers. I believe the bible. I believe that in order for our children to be part of God’s remnant they are going to have to be taught to obey their parents. This verse tells children that a long and blessed life will be the result. This is both a promise of God and common sense.

Many years ago, we moved from one city to another and one of our children did not want to go. The school guidance counselor told him that he should not have to move and if he wanted, the counselor would see to it that he could move back. In other words, “You don’t have to follow your father’s instructions or obey the laws of your mother! I’ll help you be ‘free’ of that law.”

Our response was simple. We took all of our children out of school and taught them at home. That is our right in the US. My wife and I wanted our children to live long and good lives. If that was going to happen, they had to obey their parents. It was a sacrifice that we carried for close to 20 years but all of our children are serving the Lord. They are part of the remnant that will usher in this move of God.

Verse 4 brings the focus to the parents. It specifically mentions fathers but we know from Proverbs 1:8 that parenting involves both fathers and mothers so I believe we can apply these words to both. We must not provoke our children to wrath but nurture them with training and admonition.

This verse might seem to indicate that we should not do anything that will make our children angry. Any person who thinks that is even possible has never been a parent. The only way that is impossible is if you let the children “rule the roost.” I believe there are far too many homes where there is confusion as to just who is in charge. In our home, it was clear, “We are the parents and you are the children!”

We provoke our children to wrath when we make rules or requirements simply because it will benefit us. We cannot train our children if our main concern is to satisfy our own flesh. They will recognize that and resent it. We cannot say things like, “Do as I say and not as I do.” Children know hypocrisy when they see it. We must not punish children. We must discipline and train them. Our motivation must be for their good not our convenience or comfort. When we deal with our children according to our flesh, we will “stir them up to wrath” and they will be justified in their wrath.

We must admonish and train our children. The word “admonish” carries with it the idea of advising someone what they should or what they should not do. It also carries the idea of rebuke. It is not wrong to rebuke (translate holler at) your children if it is for their good. Your rebuke may save their life!

We are also to train them. Training involves repetitive admonition and instruction until certain things become second nature to the trainee. Training takes time and patience. If we do not instruct our children on both the how’s and why’s of what we are asking them to do we are not training them. There may be times when we cannot give full explanations and there may be times we must train them to obey without explanation. In the end they must know as much of why they must do a thing as possible. That is what produces real adults.

Finally, training is specific. We need to train them how to be good citizens. We need to train them in the Word of God. We need to train them in the things of God. We need to train them in righteousness and holiness. We need to train them in the love of the Father. The most important aspect of training is that we be an example of everything we are training them to do. Without that, they will never really learn to be the remnant God needs in the last days.

A Remnant

Romans 9:29 (NKJV) 29 And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

(It has been a busy spring. We were in Virginia for a week and we have been doing some much needing spring-cleaning at our home. I apologize for not posting more. I will try and get “back on the stick” this week. Let me start with some thoughts on a powerful message my wife preached on Mother’s Day.)

Romans 9 is an interesting chapter. It is Paul’s lament that his own people, Israel, did not seem to understand what God was doing before their eyes. God had a purpose for Israel and they fulfilled that purpose by producing Messianic salvation. That salvation was for them as much as it was for the rest of the world; however, they could not look past what God had done in order to understand what God was now doing. They were about to miss the very thing for which they were created.

I see parallels here for the church today. It has been 2000 years since Jesus rose from the grave. The church has gone through many phases. It has been corrupt and it has been powerful. Through all of these things, God has been building toward something.

Jesus promised he would return. The first message preached in the church pointed to something that was coming.

Acts 2:16-17 (NKJV) 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

Certain aspects of Peter’s message came to pass on that day but there are other aspects that we have yet to see. I believe Ephesians 1:10 gives us a glimpse into the future.

Ephesians 1:10 (NKJV)10  that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.

There is nothing that can keep the will of God from happening. There is a day set in the future when God will gather all things in Christ. That is inevitable. What is not inevitable is whether we will participate in God’s plan or miss what God is doing like Israel of Paul’s day.

In today’s verse, Paul quotes from Isaiah. He is speaking of the Israel of his day but he could be speaking of the church in our day. Paul says that if there had not been a righteous remnant, Israel would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed. Nothing remained of them. If there had not been a remnant in Isaiah’s day, they would have been destroyed as well. There would have been nothing left of Israel.

Paul feared that would be the fate of Israel in his day but he knows something else. Israel was not limited to one bloodline or race. True Israel is that people who trust in God by faith. In a real sense the church is the spiritual descendant of Israel. However, we must access our covenant the same was Israel accessed theirs. We must come by faith.

As I look at the condition of much of the church, I am concerned in the same way Paul was concerned. I do not believe nominal Christianity is in danger. I do believe the devil is hard at work trying to destroy bible believing, spirit empowered Christianity. We know that in the east Christians are targeted and killed. In the west, the attack is much more subtle and much more powerful.

In the United States, for instance, we see increasing pressure to compromise the truth of the scripture in order to conform to certain aspects of our culture. We are considered backward because we do not believe in sex outside of marriage or the validity of homosexuality as a lifestyle. Our morality is antiquated and unnecessary in a modern world. We are called intolerant when we choose to believe that God established morality with a purpose. He did set standards to bind us but to protect us and show us the best way to live.

Although the attack on the believing church is clothed in these things, the goal is much more sinister. A strong segment of our society wants the church silenced and if possible eradicated all together. I am not someone give to hyperbole. The evidence is there for anyone to see.

The most dangerous part of this attack is the infiltration and erosion that has occurred in much of the church. Many of what were the most powerful spiritual churches in America have watered down the message and yielded to the pressure of modern culture. If there were not a remnant, we would end up like Sodom and Gomorrah! God has spent 2000 years preparing us for his plan and many will miss it unnecessarily.

I believe there is a remnant. I am not convinced that Christianity in most of America is as bad off as the mainstream media makes it sound. I believe that we are still a nation of faith. However, the church is not on the rise as it was some 30 years ago. It is on the decline. We who know the truth must rise up and declare it.

Let me be clear about something. God will have his way. If he does not he is not God. I believe that God is still just as much in control as he has ever been. There will be a remnant today just as there was a remnant in Paul’s day and Isaiah’s day who really did believe in the promise of God. However, I think we have to consider what it will take to make sure that our children remain in and even lead the next great great move of God that is right now beginning.

What does it take to ensure a remnant remains? I believe it takes fathers and mothers who will teach their children the things of God. I believe it takes fathers and mothers who will stand against that part of modern culture that conflicts with and hinders the Word of God. I believe it will take mothers and fathers who will stand for what is right and live as examples to their children. It was this quality that caused God to choose Abram above everyone else when he was looking for someone with whom he could make covenant.

Genesis 18:19 (KJV) 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

God will have a remnant in the church. He will have a remnant that will trust God and believe in his plan. He will have a people who will show the world that God is not dead and that he is the hope for the world. I want to be part of that remnant. I want my children and grandchildren to be part of it.

How about you?