QUARTERLY JOURNAL
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A Place of Rest

“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

Hebrews 4:10 KJV

The first man that walked on earth entered in through God’s rest. Adam did not breathe his first breath of life until after God finished His work. Man had entered God’s rest. Rest means peace, tranquility, and calm. Rest means to be free from work, labor, or exertion. Rest is a cessation of motion or absence of movement. Rest is inactivity. Rest means having composure. Rest frees us from burdens of responsibility. Rest is synonymous with mental or spiritual calm. Rest is solitude. Rest is a short pause within a line of music. Rest is an interval of silence between tones. Rest means to be still or to stop. We can find rest in a place that provides shelter or lodging after traveling. Rest allows us to lie down, relax and sleep. Rest allows us to relieve weariness and stress. When we find a place of rest, we also find everything we need. Rest comes with provisions. People do not experience rest if they have worry. Worry and rest do not go together but when we do enter a place of rest our whole being is at rest including, mind, body, and spirit. Adam and Eve entered God’s rest. Their bodies were at rest. Their minds were at rest. Their spirits were at rest. God had given them everything they needed. They were in a place of peace and could rest freely whenever they wanted to. They were free. Rest and freedom go together.

God’s place is a place of freedom and rest. In the midst of our adversities, God gives His people rest from our burdens; “…ye make them rest from their burdens” (Exodus 5:5 KJV). God gives us rest from our enemies; “…he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety” (Deuteronomy 12:10 KJV). God even set aside a day in the week to allow His people to rest from their labor; “So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:30 KJV). God’s presence in our lives gives us rest; “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14 KJV).

The world offers an illusion of rest. They lay on their couches and take their vacations without any thought about God’s will for their lives; “You people are rushing toward the day of punishment. You bring near the rule of violence. But now you lie on ivory beds and stretch out on your couches” (Amos 6:3-4 KJV). Many unbelievers live their lives without any thought about tomorrow’s consequences (1 Samuel 25:36-38). People that live under false perceptions think that they know the best way to live a good life, but they are really fooling themselves; “There is a way that people think is right, but it leads only to death” (Proverbs 14:12 ERV). A young man told Jesus Christ that he did everything right and his question appeared to be rhetorical because in his own mind there was nothing that he had done wrong in his life; “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20 KJV). Living the good life or the so-called ‘American Dream’ is not the answer to Paradise (Luke 16: 22 KJV). For some people, the whole story of their lives will be that they lived, they died, and they were buried. They would have never entered into God’s rest while on earth and they will not enter Paradise after death. The Lord has empathy for the poor and humble and He provides a place of rest for them; “For the LORD heareth the poor” (Psalm 69:33 KJV). Those that are poor in spirit will be in God’s presence; “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 KJV). Those living by their own efforts have challenges that they may not be able to overcome; “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:21-23 KJV).

What is God’s rest? The Saints of the past knew about the Lord’s rest and sang old spiritual hymns about the rest that God gives to His people: Joys are flowing like a river, Since the Comforter has come; He abides with us forever, Makes the trusting heart His home. Blessed quietness, holy quietness, Blest assurance in my soul! On the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me, He speaks peace to me, And the billows cease to roll. Everything is turned to gladness, All around this glorious Guest; Banished unbelief and sadness, All is perfect peace and rest. Like the rain that falls from heaven, Like the sunlight from the sky, So the Holy Spirit given, Falls upon us from on high. God’s rest is peace in our lives without worrying about anything (Matthew 6:31-34).

Entering God’s rest is when we do not have the extreme necessity to greatly suffer from disturbing thoughts about our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. When we give our lives over to Jesus Christ and obey God’s commands found in His Word then we have entered God’s rest. This is where Adam and Eve were before they disobeyed God’s command. The obvious question is where do we find God’s commands? We find them in His Word. What the world does not understand but what God’s people do understand is that God’s Word is a person; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1- 3 KJV). That Word is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13 KJV). Jesus Christ went to Paradise to be with the Father but He left someone here in His absence to comfort us until Jesus Christ returns back to earth; “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26 KJV). We have the promise that we can enter God’s place of rest because of what Jesus did for us. God always had a place of rest for His people. Adam and Eve lost it because of their disobedience and the people in the Old Testament failed to get it because of their lack of faith. Those that did enter God’s rest had a different spirit; “But my servant Caleb was different. He follows me completely. So I will bring him into the land that he has already seen, and his people will get that land” (Numbers 14:24 ERV). The message about God’s rest does not help people who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Only those who believe in Jesus and obey His commands are able to enter into God’s place of rest. God’s work was finished from the time he made the world. On the seventh day God rested from all his work but unbelievers and the disobedient will never enter into God’s place of rest. If you hear God’s voice today, do not be stubborn but obey and respond to His call of salvation; “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7 ERV). God rested after He finished His work. So, everyone who enters into God’s place of rest will also have rest from their own work just as God did.

 Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley



The Greatest Battle We Will Ever Face

“Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.”

Hebrews 12:1 CEV

 

The greatest battle that we all have to face is defeating the person we see in the mirror every morning. No matter what we say to the mirror, it does not change what we see.  Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Why did I do that?’ If we say no to that question, then we are deceiving ourselves by lying and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).  Forget about trusting other people, the truth is that we can’t even trust ourselves, “More than anything else [Above all things, a person’s mind is evil [the heart is deceitful; the heart is devious/crooked] and cannot be healed [desperately wicked; it is perverse/sick]. Who can understand [know] it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 EXB).  Our minds are polluted, and our hearts are desperately wicked, and we need the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. 

We all have an incredible struggle every day with our own selves.  We carry loads that we should not have and we keep doing things that we know we should not do. The reason why we suffer with failures and problems in our lives is not because of other people, ‘for we wrestle not with flesh and blood’. Although, the Lord does tell us in Ephesians 6:12, that we are at war with demonic forces, rulers, authorities and the invisible powers of this world’s darkness and the spiritual powers of evil in heavenly places, our greatest problem is still the visible man or woman we see looking back at us in the mirror.  It is the decaying human body that encases our soul and spirit that keeps us in constant conflict with the person we see in the mirror every morning.  The Holy Bible describes that person we see in the mirror as filthy; “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV). 

King David agrees with the Prophet Isaiah; Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 53:3 KJV).  There is nothing good about us.  Jesus Christ told the rich young ruler that there is only One that is good, “…there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17 KJV).  No amount of make-up, cosmetics or plastic surgery can change our condition.  The latest fashions or the most exquisite luxuries cannot change who we really are. There is absolutely nothing that the world offers that can absolve the state of our sad condition. We are contemptible, miserable, pitiful, despicable, sorry, and worthless.

As a matter of fact, Apostle Paul did not even spend a whole lot of words getting right to the point.  Apostle Paul just came right out and declared that we are just downright wretched; O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24 KJV). Both the church and science agree that we have a problem. Spiritually, the source of our problem is disobedience. It’s spiritually manifested when we disobey Psalm 101:3 and don’t control our eyes; “Every time they look at a woman, they want her” (2 Peter 2:14 ERV). Disobedience is manifested in us when we take part in idle talk and rumors. For many of us, the enjoyment of talking about the personal or private affairs of others is irresistible; There’s nothing so delicious as the taste of gossip! It melts in your mouth” (Proverbs 18:8 CEV).

Disobedience is in our deoxyribonucleic acid. Many folks may not be familiar with that word, but they are probably very familiar with its acronym, DNA. DNA is a self-replicating molecule which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. As a simple metaphor, we could probably say that our sin tries to replicate itself.  As an example, if you spend enough time around angry and bitter people, you will probably become just like them or at least pick up their tendencies; “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25 KJV).  Hence, the old saying, ‘birds of feather flock together’. 

The Lord says we can counsel, advise or caution the disobedient but we should at the same time keep our distance from them, Be on your guard against any followers who refuse to obey what we have written in this letter. Put them to shame by not having anything to do with them. Don’t consider them your enemies, but speak kindly to them as you would to any other follower(2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 CEV). 

DNA is the carrier of our genetic information and holds the fundamental characteristics of our physical bodies. DNA is composed of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. The bottom line is that God with His infinite wisdom created DNA but our disobedience has polluted what God created. The reason why Jesus wouldn’t commit himself to people is because Jesus knew our DNA; But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them because he knew all people. He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he knew what human nature was(John 2:24-25 CEB).

Physically, the problem manifests itself when we eat three ice cream cones instead of just one. The problem is exacerbated when we walk into the delicatessen for a newspaper and end up coming out with a pocket full of candy and four cans of soda. We have totally sold out to our wretched desires when we go to the corner store and return home with a box of cigarettes in one hand, a lottery ticket in another and a girly magazine in our back pockets. Scientists call this the ‘Dopamine Effect’. The street slang that most of us are used to hearing is ‘dope’. Kids today use the word ‘dope’ to say that something is cool.

Dopamine is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families that play several important roles in the brain and body. The clinical description for dopamine is that it functions as a neurotransmitter—chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. Each part of our brain controls a part of our body. Dopamine controls the movements a person makes, as well as their emotional responses. The neurotransmitters associated with dopamine also play a major role in reward-motivated behavior. The satisfaction we experience from rewards increase the level of dopamine. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental well-being. Vital brain functions that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning, concentration, and motor control are influenced by the levels of dopamine in our bodies.

Constant behaviors like drug abuse, over-eating, and the oversaturation with other ‘rewards’ that we crave can alter the thresholds required for dopamine cell activation and signaling. Dopamine deficiency can be due to a drop in the amount of dopamine made by the body or a problem with the receptors in the brain. Damage caused by health problems and addictions can negatively affect our Dopamine thresholds and make it difficult for us to experience the positive effects that were intended from dopamine. Our abusive behaviors can decrease the dopamine receptors and dopamine release.

A combination of these physiological problems alongside the spiritual challenge we face every day gives us no chance of winning the battle without God’s power. Even if we succeed in improving our physical health we still loose the war if we don’t function under God’s power and authority; For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 KJV).

Satan knew about our physiological vulnerabilities when he first approached Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even before the man and woman actually ate the fruit that God told them not to eat, they had a problem already germinating in them; “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise…” (Genesis 3:6 KJV).  The man had the same problem because he stood right there and never said a word while the crime was taking place; “…her husband with her” (Genesis 3:6 KJV).  Apostle Paul says that men and women were in trouble when God gave Adam the command to not do something. Since our DNA has no power in and of itself to obey God’s commands we were destined to fall; “…the law was the only way I could learn what sin means. I would never have known it is wrong to want something that is not mine. But the law said, “You must not want what belongs to someone else.” And sin found a way to use that command and make me want all kinds of things that were not mine. So, sin came to me because of the command. But without the law, sin has no power. Before I knew the law, I was alive. But when I heard the law’s command, sin began to live, and I died spiritually. The command was meant to bring life, but for me it brought death. Sin found a way to fool me by using the command to make me die” (Romans 7:7-10 ERV).  Apostle John describes our internal conflict as a spiritual war; “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16 KJV).

God warns us about this problem and lets us know that we have the capacity to make a choice. We can choose to either obey or disobey (Genesis 4:7 KJV). The directive from the Lord is clear, …put everything evil out of your life…” (Colossians 3:5 ERV). As we look in the mirror, we should remember that we have at least three challenges in this great personal battle. The first challenge is to recognize that we are spiritually dead without Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1). We must accept the call to salvation as soon as we hear it and that means, not tomorrow but today; “So, as the Holy Spirit says, Today, if you hear his voice don’t have stubborn hearts... Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called “today,” so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception (Hebrews 3:7, 12-13 CEB).

The rich fool discovered too late that tomorrow is not promised to anyone; “But God said to that man, ‘Foolish man! Tonight, you will die. So, what about the things you prepared for yourself? Who will get those things now?” (Luke 12:20 ERV). The irony about the fools in the Holy Bible is that many of them were rich and foolish. The Lord warns us that it is impossible to serve God and money (Luke 16:13). Whereas trying to find their next meal can be the greatest battle for the poor, money is the greatest battle for the rich. The poor do not usually have many choices but the obvious challenge for the rich is to make a choice between what money can do for them and the eternal riches of Jesus Christ. Sometimes the manifestation of these challenges is played out right next to each other; “There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes, and every day ate the best food. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores  (Luke 16:19-21 KJV). 

When it comes to money God challenges us to make a choice; “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all that you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me!” (Matthew 19:21 ERV).  Unfortunately, some will discover the truth too late, “…remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (Luke 16:25 KJV). Many people will lose this spiritual challenge because they love this world too much, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 KJV).

The second challenge that we have in our personal battle is changing the way we think (Romans 12:2 KJV). The reason why we lose the greatest battle of our lives is because we make bad decisions. Sinners are not even in the battle because they are already captives of sin but some of the saints are in losing battles because we’ve given our lives to Jesus without changing the way we think; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23 KJV). The third challenge for us is to treat our bodies like God’s Spirit lives in us; A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 KJV). 

The answer to living through our struggles and winning the greatest battle that we will ever face is to first recognize that we have life because God lives in us; And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:14 KJV). God’s wrath and vengeance is for the wicked and disobedient (Job 21:30 KJV) but His chastisement is for His children. God corrects us but He does not punish us like we could be punished because He loves us; We sinned against him, but he didn’t give us the punishment we deserved” (Psalm 103:10 ERV).

Although God’s grace covers His children and even more so in disobedience, this does not mean we should go out and try to disobey (Romans 6:1-2 ERV). If we continue living in sin then that might be a revelation that we are really are not God’s children (1 John 2:19 KJV). We run the risk of experiencing more severe chastisement if we do not change our disobedient behaviors; And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:18 KJV).

The Lord warned the man who he healed from 38 years of illness near the pool of Bethesda. The man had enough common sense to go to church after Jesus healed him but the warning that the Lord gave him occurred in church; Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:14 KJV). After being delivered from sickness, illness, addictions, bitterness, anger, hatred, illicit behaviors, abuse, violence, etc., we should never want to go back to where we were. God gives us a warning to help motivate us to live right. He also put in failsafe mechanisms that ensure we do not go back without consequence (2 Peter 2:20 KJV). Obedience has its benefits (1 Peter 2:15 TLB). Disobedience has consequences but returning back to disobedience after receiving the truth can make a difficult life even more difficult. If we keep going back to the things that God has delivered us from then there are no more sacrifices that will take away our sins. Jesus Christ only died on the cross once and if we continue sinning, all that is left for us are the consequences of sin; If we decide to continue sinning after we have learned the truth, then there is no other sacrifice that will take away sins” (Hebrews 10:26 ERV).

In truth, the war is over, but we won’t experience the victory if we keep losing the personal battles in our lives by going back to what God delivered us from. As was said before, we should not trust ourselves. The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful. Our mind is a puzzle that no man or woman can figure out. God says that He is the only One that can honestly examine our minds. The Lord gets to the heart of the human. God gets to the root of things and treats us as we really are and not as we pretend to be; Nothing can hide its evil as well as the human mind. It can be very sick, and no one really understands it. But I am the Lord, and I can look into a person’s heart. I can test a person’s mind and decide what each one should have. I can give each person the right payment for what they do” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 ERV).

Yes, we are wretched, and the invisible forces of darkness are powerful but our Father in Heaven, is good and all-powerful. God says that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ pleased Him by defeating the rulers and powers of the spiritual world when he sacrificed his own life on the cross. As a result of the Lord’s sacrifice, the children of God can walk in victory because His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ won the victory over the Adversary and led the enemy away in defeat. Jesus made our worst nightmares powerless prisoners for all the whole world to see (Colossians 2:9-15).

We can win the greatest battle that we will ever face in our lives because Jesus Christ has already claimed the victory for us. The next time we look in the mirror let us declare with confidence that we have the victory over sin and Satan because Jesus Christ lives in the heart of that person we see in the mirror! 

 Submitted By Trustee Stanley Ridley



Refreshing

Oh, how refreshing is the word of God! As we dive into His word, we find The Holy Spirit beckoning us to delve deeper with Him. As I thought about the topic “Refreshing,” I asked the Lord to help me. I wasn’t sure where to turn. He lead me to a book written by Susan Rohrer called Splash! In it she shares refreshing Christian quotes and scriptures that take you right into Spiritual Refreshment. Here are just a few inspirational quotes that caught my heart as a believer and encourages me to stay in the Word.

“He turns a desert into a pool of water, dry land into springs of water.”
Psalms 107:35 KJV
 
“They drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house; and Thou dost give them to drink of the river of Thy delights.”
Psalms 36:8 KJV
 
“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well springing up to eternal life.”
 John 4:14 KJV

Are you a busy believer? Barely have time to splash some water on your face before you start your day? You may find yourself thirsty for time with God. You long for a refreshing from the Holy Spirit, an inspired thought for the day ahead. You desire to drink of the living waters Jesus said would flow from the innermost parts of every believer. You want to refresh others with what refreshes you. Draw from the well of inspiration through these quotes, fruit of time spent in God’s sparkling river!

  • The Holy Spirit is powerfully loving, commandingly joyful, actively peaceful, compellingly patient, emphatically kind, intensely good, infallibly faithful, potently gentle, and vigorously self-controlled. Who wouldn’t want to know a person like this?
  • The Holy Spirit is a great gentleman. He doesn’t push us deeper when we’re not ready. He patiently waits to be desired.
  • Is God calling you deeper into the river of His Holy Spirit?
  • The world says to follow your heart. The Word bids us to follow the prompting of the Spirit. What path will you choose?
  • How far we venture into God’s River is up to us. God continues to call, to envelop those who choose to go deeper.
  • The wonder-working power of Jesus was poured out to supercharge the testimony of every believer- through every generation.
  • We have trouble trusting people to truly manifest the Spirit. But that’s exactly what God does. Even with the least of us.
  • The Spirit and the Bride really do say, “Come!” Drink freely of the kingdom’s crystal clear, life-giving River and be refreshed!
  • The Bible is our compass. If we don’t keep confirming our course, we’ll drift off track, far from the current of the Spirit.
  • The desert is an arid place where we must learn to rely fully on the refreshment of the Holy Spirit.
  • The more we’re above water, the more control we keep. The deeper we go into His River, the more control we give Him.
  • Our comfort zone is really our control zone. The more we yield control to Him, the more comfortable we get with our Comforter.
  • Ever the Gentleman, our divine Teacher eases us out of our comfort zones, giving us opportunity to learn about His ways.
  • Reach out when He prompts you. Yield when He subdues you. Acknowledge Him as your very present helper and guide.
  • We all have control issues. We like to be in charge of the way things go. But that is the way of the flesh, not the Spirit.
  • Once we truly get to know the Holy Spirit, we’ll eagerly accept what He gives us and we’ll go where we He leads.
  • Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is one of the forms discernment takes, as God reveals the truth about our circumstances.
  • Pray before you act. Listen before you speak. Your heavenly Counselor will guide you, if given the opportunity. All heaven can break loose.
  • Spend time in quietness, with your ears open to the Holy Spirit. In those silent moments, you just may hear His whispers.
  • No matter the place you find yourself, know that God sees you there. Like the loving Father that He is, He cares about your mountaintops and your valleys.
  • Wherever you are, you are never, ever, out of His sight. He waits to water your dry bones and to restore you to a place of spiritual vitality in every single circumstance.
  • When it comes to finding godly contentment’s, it’s not so much a question of where we are as it is who has led us to that place. If God led you into that valley, thank Him for it. He will strengthen you to not only survive it, but to thrive. Where ever you are, there is a Fountain. Truly.
  • God really does have all the answers. The greatest enigmas are elegantly solved at the feet of such a Teacher.
  • Unsure what to do? Ask your heavenly Father’s advice. Sit at His feet and listen. He loves that. He delights to answer and help His kids.
  • No matter what happens, God can use it in His children’s lives, along His continuum of redemption and grace. It really is all good!
“Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.”
John 7:37-38

One of the things I love so much about the invitation God extends is that it’s to everyone. There’s no exclusivity of gender, race or age. All who live and breathe are invited into His sparkling river. If you’ve accepted His invitation, too, you know what I mean. But if you haven’t yet or if you’ve wandered away from His life-giving flow, know that your forgiving God stands waiting, loving you all the while.

Submitted by Sis. Raquel Colon