Rest in Peace RIP

mandelLiving in South Africa, we have all recently joined with the world in saying farewell to the great Nelson Mandela. Few people have ever impacted the South African nation like he has, and certainly it could be argued, none has made a greater contribution to peace. Every news board, blog and social media blog, post or tweet has a reference to “Madiba” as he has been known affectionately in South Africa. Most of these messages of condolence has also been accompanied by R.I.P.

A day or two before Nelson Mandela died, Paul Walker died (Fast and Furious fame). A day or two after Madiba passed away, a famous South African world champion boxer “Baby Jake”died. They too were sent many messages saying RIP.  So what is this Rest in Peace all about? What does it really mean? And as believers in Christ how does this affect us?

Well all I can do is say how it affected me this last week. Now first of all let me make it clear that my piece below is about the principle of saying R.I.P. It is not a comment or a judgement on either Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker or Baby Jake. It is about what people mean by rest in peace and what the Bible teaches. I just know that as I read all these messages.

The Bible says clearly that “all who labour and are heavy laden”, should come to Jesus an he will give them peace. Resting in peace is a sentiment that people say when they want to send warm wishes to the dead, trusting that they will now be in a better place. Isaiah 48 v 22 says

There is no peace to the wicked

As I said this is nothing to do with Walker, Mandela or Baby Jake. This is about what we say very glibly. It is a b it like saying “I’m fine thank you” when you meet someone and they say “How are you?” Rest in Peace is just what we say when someone dies. But David is an interesting case:

In 1 Kings 22 David prays for the baby that he had with Bathesheba. The baby is critically ill, and David lies on the floor and will not rise or eat or be comforted. A day or two later, when David realises his baby has died, he gets up, washes, gets dressed and calls for food, after worshiping the Lord. David’s response when questioned is:

While my child was a live I prayed and asked God to save him. But now that he is dead, what can I do?

David understands that the time for calling on God is “in the living years” as Mike and the Mechanics would say. And that is our lesson too. If you want someone you love to “rest in peace”, make sure they know God before they die. Otherwise it may make you feel better, but the Bible points to a horrible reality for those who die without a saving knowledge of Jesus.

 

 

 

Discerning the seasons

Jesus told the Pharisees that they knew how to read the weather signs from the sky, but that they were clueless in spiritual discernment – “recognising the sign of the times”.

In the natural we all discern the weather, and the seasons, but in the spiritual, we often don’t. The thing is we are not just flesh and bone. We are spirit too. In fact the spirit part of us is more real than the flesh. The flesh will return to dust, but our spirit lives on forever.

What is the season you are in?

After the flood, God said this.

Genesis 8:22

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

We all go through seasons in life.

  • Seasons in our marriage
  • Seasons in our family
  • Seasons in our church
  • Seasons in our career
  • Seasons in our health

You cannot have summer all the time. Do you know why? Because if you only have summer you end up with a desert. It is often when we go through the hard times, the winter seasons, where fruit is scarce that we appreciate the good times when they come. Sadly, often all too soon, we think the good times will never end, but no-one is on the top of the mountain all the time. No-one enjoys summer all the time.

I believe  Gen 8 is prophetic and is not simply referring to the four seasons . In fact

Ecclesiastes 3

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace

You may be going through a time of winter, or autumn where things are not quite what they should be. You struggle and have stress and God seems more distant than you recall He once was. Someone once said ” if you are not as close to God as you used to be,… who moved?”  

Summer – is the time when there is abundance, the sun is shining, almost everything is going well, you just know you are blessed. This is the time when there are no major crises in your life. The days are at their longest, and they are flooded with light. Everything springs to life. God speaks and His presence is evident in your life and in your business and in your church.

Autumn – is when you realise things that were going so well for a long time are not quite as good as they were, there are times of stress creeping in. Maybe spiritually speaking, after a time when you really walked close to God, perhaps now you just sense you are not reading the Word as often as before, not seeking God’s presence. Things which were once vibrant and alive now seem to be wilting. Things that used to run smoothly no longer run smoothly.

Winter –  is the time when almost everything is a struggle. Things are going wrong, blessings seem a life time away, you are spiritually battling, spiritually cold. You know God cares but you just don’t see the evidence in your circumstances. It is the season with the most darkness, the least amount of light. You seem to be spiritually blind, there are walls up around you everywhere, stopping the blessings, stopping growth. This is the time when we are at our weakest. But God has called us out of darkness into His glorious light. Before we came to know Christ, we are spiritually dead, the Bible says we are blind, we walk in darkness. Winter is the “season of spiritual discomfort, hunger, misery and emptiness” of our life. But the Light of the world came to bring us the True Light. And it is our misery and struggles which eventually bring us to repentance. When you are in winter, it is a time to reflect and to understand what it is God is teaching you.

Spring –  is the time when after a long hard winter, there are just signs that things are changing. There are signs of life, the days are getting warmer. Perhaps God is starting to warm your heart a little. The leaves are starting to come out, the days are getting warmer. Suddenly God is starting to speak to you again, and there is a spark of revival in your heart. The pain of winter is starting to fade, and it is time to start preparing for the growth that is coming. There is great hope for the months ahead. You will need to soon care for and nurture those things that used to be weak as they unfold into strength. You will know the joy of discovery and the excitement of new treasures previously unknown. In this time the promises of God become real. The first signs of life are a portent of things to come. It is a time to start getting excited, for summer and a harvest lies ahead.

In every season there is an appropriate response or way of doing. Recognising the season is the first step. God bless you

Understanding God’s timing

If you experience the joy of walking closely with Jesus your savior, you will know something about God’s timing. The secret to success is often not so much what you do, but when you do it – in other words, doing the right thing at the right time. With God, timing can be everything!

One business can open and seem to do everything right,and fail, and yet another that seems to do the same thing using the same formula and it flourishes.  This is called timing!

The wisest man who ever lived (according to the Word) Solomon wrote the following:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecc 3:11).

In the book of Esther, one of the most powerful themes is “for such a time as this”. Many prayers are prayed with faith, and with expectation and yet God seems to say No. It has been said that God answers every prayer with either a Yes, a No or a Not yet. It is all about Timing.

The Bible tells us in James, that God is a Father who gives us good gifts. He is indeed a father full of love towards his children. In fact God IS love! Christ died for us while we hated him and were sinners. But now we have been adopted into His family; we are joint heirs with Jesus, heirs of all the Father has in heaven and on earth.

Some people however are trapped in a world of lethargy – in a state of inertia. They never get anything done, because they are always waiting for a better time or another day. Procrastination is their middle name! God expects us to be active, and doing good all the time, unless He tells us specifically to “be still” for a time or a season. Until such an instruction is received, we should be busy about His kingdom.

Psalms says

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12).

We don’t have forever – the days are short. We need to redeem the time. if you are guilty of procrastination, then this verse above should hopefully get you going. Then again, many others are guilty of always wanting to do it NOW. Jesus who is our greatest example understood that He had to wait for the right time before his time came.

Jesus told his disciples one day “The right time for me has not yet come.”

God Himself is aware of the importance of acting in the right time. The Bible says, “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Gal 4:4). God did not send Jesus too early or too late. God sent Jesus just at the right time.

Have you missed God’s timing?

Maybe you gave up on your teenager too soon, or maybe you gave up on your marriage too soon. Maybe you rushed into a relationship, while you knew it was a bit premature. Fortunately God is God of all, including TIME. The Bible says that you can “redeem the time” (Ep 5:16). Redeem means to get back! God will let you recover some of the time that you have lost.

This is really exciting! Even if you have missed your opportunities for success, you can repent and get back time from God. Pray and ask God to redeem the time for you. God is a God of second chances.

Many people feel that God’s will and his timing are so difficult to understand. However, we read that:

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (NIV)

Do not be afraid to plan, but before you act on your plan, submit it to God and ask Him to direct your steps. If your plan is not quite what God had in mind, He will show you as you go, sometimes really early on in the process. Of course this also requires listening to God and that means to be still and quiet before Him with the Word open and in a prayerful attitude. Ask God to open your spiritual eyes and ears and He will.

God has made it easy for us to understand His timing. He made it simple to discover His time by giving us the seasons of life.

Everything has seasons and there is a right time for everything.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (Ecc 3:1)

You see, to know the time for everything you need to understand that every activity has a season.Seasons are God’s clue to timing. What season are you in?

Tomorrow I will share about the seasons. God bless you.