We are believing God in this season for restoration of things lost or stolen. Notice the word rest-oration is derived from the word rest. In order for restoration to take place we have to find rest in God and in his promises. Rest is an elusive concept in our twenty first century. This is due to the drive to try to do more and constantly earn more in order to make progress. Someone may ask; how do I rest when I have work, school, a family and other demands?
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). When I first heard this scripture, I never understood how taking on a yoke would give us rest. This is because it sounded like carrying an additional burden. I researched this scripture for the meaning and I found out that a yoke is what is placed on two oxen for them to carry a load together. As such Jesus wants to be yoked with us in order to walk with us and help us carry our burdens. What an assurance of our help and a constant companion to share in our struggles.
God cares for us and he does not want us to be weary, stressed out, burnt out, sick and tired. Jesus has borne our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
We find peace and rest when we take our worries and cares to Jesus in prayer and surrender it all to him. We surrender in knowing that he hears us, that he cares. We know that he is walking with us, yoked with us and helping us to carry our burdens. We are never alone and there is joy and peace in abiding in his rest.
Peter wrote an exhortation to the elders and other witnesses of the suffering of Christ. He exhorted them to take care of the saints that had been entrusted to their care. He also exhorted the young people to show respect to their elders. Peter spoke of the need for humility as God would exalt us in due season. We are encouraged to trade anxiety for prayer and intercession. Peter wanted the church to be sober, watchful and vigilant as the devil went about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. The advice is to resist him and stand firm in our faith. The main reason was that similar trials were being experienced by believers all around the world.
Peter then offered a comforting reassurance, that after suffering comes restoration, support, strength and establishment. It is true that as believer we will experience some challenges and testing. I do not believe that trials and suffering are for our entire lifetime. God is not so unjust to allow continual suffering. This is why Peter said ‘after we have suffered a little while.’ Life is made up of times and seasons and there are seasons of summer and spring. Similarly, we may experience seasons of hardship which will give way to restoration and peace.
If we examine the life of God’s people in the bible, the Jews experienced seasons of captivity and defeat. They also experienced seasons of rest from their enemies. In most instances, seasons of bondage and hardship was as a result of their disobedience. God promised in Deuteronomy 28, the blessings that would flow from obedience. He also outlined the consequences of disobedience and sin. Even then, God provided a caveat for his people in times of punishment for disobedience. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people” (2 Chronicles 7:13). God told Solomon that his people could cry out to him in prayer and he would answer and heal the land.
We don’t need to teach a gospel that promises a road paved with gold. Neither do we teach people, that a walk with Jesus leads to perpetual suffering. God’s promises are yes and amen, and there are many benefits attached to serving God. Many people have lived a life of sin, suffering and hardship. I believe that God offers comfort to those people. For those who have experienced turmoil, God offers peace. When we come to Jesus, the weak becomes strong, the poor becomes rich because of the eternal grace of God. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
In 1 Samuel 30, David returned from to his camp, after the Philistines sent him back because they did not trust him. They rejected David because they recognised him as a man of war. He had defeated them in the past when he fought with Saul. On his return home, David learnt that the Amalekites had raided his camp. They took his family, possession and the families of his men that served him and burned the camp.
David was distressed and so were his men who spoke of stoning him. David did the only thing that could help him at that time. David asked the Priest to bring his ephod (sacred garment of praise and worship used to seek God). David asked the Lord whether or not he should pursue the raiders and asked God if he would be successful. God answered David and told him to pursue, overtake and recover everything that was stolen (1 Samuel 30:7-8).
David set out with his men to overtake the Amalekites and found them eating, dancing and celebrating. David attacked their army, struck them down and recovered everything. “Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all” (1 Samuel 30:19).
Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus. I declare that in this season, we will pursue our goals and dreams, we shall overtake them and recover anything lost or stolen. What have you lost that you gave up on getting back? What opportunities did you lose out on as a result of someone being dishonest? God says to pursue that dream again because you will recover. Seek the Lord about your next step, receive his guidance and go pursue and recover all.
“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:25-26).
Holding back what we think is an area of weakness for many of us. We can often without malice, feel the need to say what we think. We have to train ourselves to know when to speak and when to keep silent. Some people are clever enough to understand our weaknesses and may try to bait us to gain a reaction.
We have to understand when we are being tested, what to respond to and what things to ignore. Overtime we get better at ignoring and practicing a time to keep silent. It is our peace that the devil is after and our ability to remain calm and choose not to react.
The tongue is a hard thing to tame and although small can do significant damage. “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7-8). We have the power to build each other up with what we say and the same ability to tear down. This is why Paul warns us to bless and curse not (Romans 12:14).
Our daily prayer should be that God will help us to be at peace with others and to hold our peace. To daily understand when to speak and when to keep silent.
There was a time in the Old Testament, when Saul pursued David in order to kill him. Saul told his son Jonathan and his servants to kill David, but Jonathan had a special love for David. “And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself” (1 Samuel 19:2). Saul’s daughter Michal helped David to escape and he went to Samuel in Ramah. Saul sent messengers to collect David, but something strange happened when they arrived.
When the messengers saw the company of prophets prophesying with Samuel, the spirit of the Lord came over them and they also prophesied. Saul sent a second and third group of messengers and on both occasions, they also prophesied. After seeing what happened to his three group of messengers, Saul decided to make the trip himself. When Saul entered Ramah, he asked for directions to find David and Samuel. The spirit of the Lord also came upon him and he prophesied. When Saul came in the presence of Samuel, he took off his clothes and laid naked all day and night prophesying.
Those who witnessed these happenings asked if Saul was also among the prophets. There was another time later in chapter 24, when Saul seemed to concede that David would be king. “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand” (1 Samuel 24:20). It is not clear from scripture, how Saul discovered that David was anointed by Samuel to be king. We see Saul’s hatred for David developing from his successes on the battlefield. “And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”” (1 Samuel 18:7).
The above statement made Saul extremely angry and the bible says that the next day, an evil spirit entered him. Although Saul wanted David dead, he had to admit that he would be king. Saul’s attempts to capture David in the company of the prophets, led to Saul and his men prophesying. I wish I knew some of what was being said by Saul and his men. Although the bible does not specify, we know that they were in the spirit. They were in the presence of the prophets and I believe that they were caught in the prophetic flow. God caused David’s own enemy to prophecy concerning his destiny.
Many people who feel threatened by you, are concerned because of what they can see in you. Even the demons know the spirit of God and acknowledge the anointing and greatness. Sometimes the devil is more threatened by us than we understand. Either way, listen to what is being said, because even those who hate you, cannot but confirm what the word of God has said.
In Deuteronomy 15, Moses instructed the people about the sabbatical year of rest (shmita). Inn Genesis 2, God rested on the seventh day after he had finished all of his work. Seven symbolises completion and God wanted people to remember the importance of rest. In the same way that God wanted his people to have a seventh day of rest, he also appointed a seventh year of rest. Some of God’s instructions to Moses regarding the seventh year was that everyone should be released from debt. “And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed” (Deuteronomy 15:2).
God’s intention is that no one should be poor among his people. Many people are in poverty and adversity due to debt and unpaid loans. God’s desire is that his people would have more than enough to give. I don’t believe that God wants the church to be indebted to financial institutions. “For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you” (Deuteronomy 15:6). If we are Abraham’s seed, then I believe that we share in these promises as God’s children.
Moses also instructed the people to bless anyone who had fallen into poverty. The other instruction from Moses was to release anyone who was a servant after six years. For instance, someone may have owed a debt to his neighbour that he could not pay. In order to pay the debt, the debtor would agree to work for his neighbour until the debt was paid off. On some occasions, people would trade adult children to work to pay off debt. God’s instructed was that anyone in such a situation should be released in the seventh year.
Brothers and sisters, we are not Jewish, but God’s instructions to his people in the Old Testament, holds significance for the church. The significance of the Jewish calendar symbolises what is being released in the realms of the spirit. We can consider this a season of freedom, restoration and liberty. I don’t know about you, but I am tapping into this anointing and claiming complete restoration over every area of my life. I want everything lost or stolen to be returned to me double and even up to a hundredfold. “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).
Jesus spoke to his disciples about his impending crucifixion and told them that he would soon leave to be with the father. He spoke of the ruler of the ‘world system’ who would work through Judas, the Pharisees and Romans to crucify him. He wanted them to know that although he was about to die, that he was surrendering himself. This was to do the will of the father who sent him. His death was not as a result of his loss of power or inability to fight back. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53)?
Jesus made the statement above to Peter after he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. He told Peter and the disciples that the events at the time needed to happen in order that the scriptures might be fulfilled. Later on in the scriptures Jesus faced Pilate who asked him many questions. When Jesus refused to respond, Pilate asked if he knew that he had the power to release him. “Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin”” (John 19:11).
Jesus spoke at other times in the New Testament about laying down his life to do the will of the father. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father””(John 10:18). And after his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that all authority was given unto him in heaven and in earth.
As believers, we share in that authority as we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, far above all principalities and powers. As such, the Prince of this world has no claim over us. The people in the highest positions of leadership, have authority over us only because it is given by God. We respect earthly authority and we honour the law of the land. That being said, our citizenship is not of this world and we come under a supreme authority which is divinely ordained by God.
Paul spoke in Ephesians 6, about being fully armoured to stand against all the strategies of the devil. He warned us that our battle is not against other people, but against the spiritual hosts of darkness. Paul outlined four realms of darkness which we are up against as children of God. These include rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Daniel 10:13 gives us a glimpse into the warfare that takes place in the heavens. The angel advised Daniel that from the first day that he began to pray, his prayer was heard in heaven.
The angel was sent with an answer to Daniel’s prayer. “But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Daniel 10:13). Michael has been described as the chief arcangel in heaven. In Revelations 12, we read about a battle in heaven which was fought by Michael and his angels against satan and his angels. Satan lost the battle and he and his angels were forced to leave heaven. “This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels” (Revelation 12:9).
Jurisdictional authority refers to the power, right and authority to interpret law. This relates to the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised. Who among us, has the right to relegate spiritual authority within the earth? Jesus spoke to Peter about being the rock or foundation, upon which the church would be built. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
This scripture outlined to Peter, the disciples and the church, the authority that has been delegated to us in the earth. Whatever we forbid is registered and agreed or endorsed in heaven and also what we allow is also allowed. This permitting and allowing relates to the spiritual forces of darkness and the forces of evil. Paul was clear in his letter to the Ephesians that we are at war against these forces. Like any earthly war, there are rules of engagement and strategies that are used to defeat the enemy. There are weapons used to wage war and there are conditions that make people vulnerable and susceptible to attack.
We cannot simply fold our hands and say that whatever is God’s plan will happen. We have been given the strategies to fight and we are promised victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, who always causes us to triumph. “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13).
Hosea spoke concerning the Lord’s judgement against Isreal. He started off by saying, that the more that Isreal prospered, the more they built sacred pillars. The sacred pillars were dedicated to the worship of pagan gods. The people strayed away from the true worship of God. “The hearts of the people are fickle; they are guilty and must be punished. The Lord will break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars” (Hosea 10:2). The people used vain repetitions before God and made vows and covenants which they had no intention or desire to keep. God was angry at the unrighteousness of his people.
Nevertheless, God sent his prophetic word ahead of their impending destruction. The books of the prophets from Isaiah and Jeremiah to the minor prophets, spoke warnings to God’s people. Their words and declarations echoed of the coming destruction. This was due to the rebellion of the people who were called to repent before destruction. “For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). Jeremiah also warned the people to plough the hard soil of their hearts. This was so that they would not sow among thorns.
Our hearts are referred to in scripture as soil, which can either be fertile or shallow and arid. Jesus shared the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, in reference to how we receive the word of God. Many people hear the word of God preached, but the condition of their hearts determine whether or not the word bears fruit. Sometimes the word preached is received into hearts that are hardened by the cares of life. As such, people struggle to receive the implanted word of God and to demonstrate transformation. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted” (Matthew 13:8)!
The exhortation from Hosea is to sow righteousness in order to reap steadfast love. Remember that we reap what we sow, so when we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ, we will reap righteousness. We also need to ensure that the condition of our heart is right to receive the word of God. Anger, bitterness, resentment, pride and jealousy can choke the word of God. There are conditions that we need to repent of and humble ourselves to remain teachable. We have to examine our motives and constantly test our own spirits, to ensure that we remain in alignment with God’s will and purpose. “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There are many places in scripture where God has promised, that his children will not be afflicted by disease and infirmity. What is permitted to affect and inflict other, is not permitted to affect us. It is according to the measure of our faith that we will remain safe. We can give into the fear and panic that surrounds us or we can claim the promises in the word of God. We declare that sickness and disease is not our portion and what is permitted to affect others is not permitted to affect us.
In Exodus 12, the Israelites in Egypt were instructed to place the blood of a lamb over their doors. This would protect them from the plague that would pass over Egypt, to take the lives of all of their firstborn children. We don’t kill physically lambs anymore, because Jesus Christ shed his blood as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. But we are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross.
As we apply the life giving blood of Jesus Christ to our lives, we can declare that no evil shall befall us neither any plague come near our dwelling. Another story in Acts which comes to mind, is when Paul travelled from Rome to Malta and while collecting wood to build a fire, was bitten by a snake. “He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm” (Acts 28:5). The people around Paul watched and waited for him to swell up and fall down dead. When they realised that no harm came to him, they concluded that he must have been a God.
Paul was not the Supreme God, but God lived in him and the blood of Jesus Christ also flowed through him. Paul understood the power and authority that he carried, so he did not panic or run to seek help when he was bitten. I am not saying that we should not seek medical help when we feel unwell. It is also important that we adhere to medical advice and take practical steps to protect ourselves. That being said, our faith transcends what is happening around us and if we have faith then no harm can come to us. “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (Revelation 12:11).