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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Universal Scope of God's Redemptive Purpose | Main | An Open Door of Ministry by Pastor John Samson »

    Relax From the Stresses of Life

    "Young man! Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap!" These words were spoken to me by a seasoned man of God as I started out in Christian ministry, and were a complete shock to my system. I think this elderly minister could see my tendency towards being driven to go, go, go in the cause of Christ, and not take the time to give sufficient rest to my body. Over the years, I have learnt to appreciate the great wisdom found in this statement, though I must admit it has not come easily. I naturally want to just keep on going. The short reflection on this theme (below) comes from Rick Renner, who pastors the Good News Church in Moscow, in the former Soviet Union. He has ministered a number of times at our church and has always been a blessing. Specifically, the article comes from his book "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." Perhaps it is a word in season for you. It really is O.K. to rest sometimes.
    - Pastor John Samson

    RELAX FROM THE STRESSES OF LIFE

    by Rick Renner

    And to you who are troubled rest with us. - 2 Thess. 1:7

    If you have been under a lot of stress, pressure, and anxiety lately, I think Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 1:7 are meant just for you! Read carefully, because you’re going to find real encouragement and instruction today that will help you find peace in the midst of trouble.

    When Paul wrote the book of 2 Thessalonians, the believers in the city of Thessalonica were undergoing horrifying persecution. The persecution in this city was worse than it was in other places because Christians were being hunted both by pagan idol worshipers and by unbelieving Jews who detested the Gospel message. As a result of these threatening conditions, members of the Thessalonian church were suffering, and some even paid the price of dying for the Gospel. However, in spite of these afflictions and pressures from outside forces, this congregation refused to surrender to defeat.

    When Paul addressed these believers in 2 Thessalonians, they had already been under this stress and pressure for a long period of time. The assaults against them had been like a stream of unrelenting poundings from which they had no pause. Naturally, they were exhausted — extremely tired, worn out, and fatigued. It had been a very long time since they had put up their feet and taken a break! The idea of unwinding or lightening up almost seemed like a fantasy. But everyone needs to rest at some point!

    If you’ve been going through a prolonged period of hardship due to persecution, your business, your family, your relationships, your finances, or your children, you still must learn how to rest in the Lord, even in the middle of that difficult situation you are facing. If you don’t, the battle will wear you out!

    That’s why Paul told the Thessalonians, “And to you who are troubled rest with us.” The word “troubled” tells us the extent of their hardships. It is the Greek word thlipsis, a word Paul often employs when he describes difficult events that he and his team have encountered. This word is so strong that it is impossible to misunderstand the intensity of these persecutions. It conveys the idea of a heavy- pressure situation. In fact, one scholar commented that the word thlipsis was first used to describe the specific act of tying a victim with a rope, laying him on his back, and then placing a huge boulder on top of him until his body was crushed. As time progressed, this word came to describe any situation that was crushing or debilitating.

    One example of this can be found in Second Corinthians 1:8, where Paul writes, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia” The word “trouble” in this verse is also from the word thlipsis. It could be translated, “We would not, brethren, have you ignorant of the horribly tight, life-threatening squeeze that came to us in Asia.” By using this word, Paul lets us know that his time in Asia was one of the most grueling nightmares he had ever undergone. In fact, when he was in the midst of the situation, he didn’t even know if he would survive it!

    Now this is exactly the word Paul uses when he writes to the Thessalonian believers and says, “To those of you who are troubled.” The word “troubled” alerts us to the fact that they were not just mildly suffering; they were horrifically suffering - and as noted earlier, this suffering had gone on for a very long time. But because Paul had been in these types of adverse circumstances himself on different occasions and had victoriously survived, he knew that for the Thessalonians to outlast these difficulties, they needed to take a break from the pressure! That is why he told them, “...rest with us.”

    The word “rest” comes from the Greek word anesis, which means to let up, to relax, to stop being stressed, or to find relief. One scholar comments that the word anesis was used in the secular Greek world to denote the release of a bowstring that has been under great pressure. It was also used figuratively to mean relaxation from the stresses of life and freedom to have a little recreation. By using this word, Paul urges the believers in the city of Thessalonica to find relief from the constant stress they are undergoing as a result of opposition to their faith. Paul exhorts them to let it go, shake it off, and learn how to relax, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

    An interpretive translation of this verse could be: “To you who are still going through difficulties right now, it’s time for you to let up, take a breather, and relax. We know what it’s like to be under pressure, but no one can stay under that kind of stress continuously. So join us in learning how to loosen up a bit. Shake off your troubles, and allow yourself a little relaxation and time for recreation.”

    I realize that when you’re dealing with problems, a vacation is the last thing on your mind! You just want to survive the challenge and make a transition into the next phase of your life — and to do it as soon as possible! You may even feel that it’s irresponsible for you to put up your feet and relax for a while. But even God rested on the seventh day!

    Take Paul’s counsel to heart, and allow yourself a little relaxation and time for recreation - time away from your problems. When it’s time to come back and face those problems again, you’ll be refreshed and recharged with renewed vision. You’ll see that challenge with new eyes, and you’ll face it with new strength. Yes, I know it’s hard to allow yourself the time to do what I’m suggesting. But, friend, your survival depends on it. If you don’t take a break from that constant stress, it will keep wearing you down until you become easy prey for the devil.

    So say goodbye to your problems today. Take a break, and allow yourself a little time to rest, relax, and recuperate!

    MY PRAYER FOR TODAY- Lord, I admit that I’ve been carrying the worries, stresses, and pressures of life for too long. Before I do anything else, I want to cast these burdens over onto You today. I am tempted to worry that the problems I’m facing won’t work out, but taking them into my own hands and worrying about them isn’t going to make the situation any better. So I repent for letting myself become consumed with worry about things I cannot change, and I turn them all over to You today. Please help me stay free of anxiety as I learn to relax and enjoy life a little more than I’ve been enjoying it lately! I pray this in Jesus’ name!

    Posted by John Samson on March 8, 2006 11:28 AM

    Comments

    I felt guilty as I pulled up this article. I'm a law student, and will be burning the midnight oil this evening. But it provided a well-needed respit, and told me I needed it at the same time.

    Thanks.

    Thanks for this post! I've linked it

    John,

    Looking at the scripture I would say that Rick took the verse out of context. I know that sounds picky but lets look at the verse.

    "7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. "
    2 Thess 1:7-8

    The rest spoken of here is the rest we will have from this world and its persecutions at the Second Coming of our Lord. I certainly think the basic concept taught in the article is taught in the rest of scripture, just not in this verse.

    The following two verses talk of rest in this way.

    "2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep. " Psalm 127:2

    "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. "
    Psalm 4:8

    Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I have known of Rick Renner's ministry for some time now. Seems he has the largest Protestant Church in the former Soviet Union if I remember right.

    However, I learned not to long ago that he was originally supported by Kenneth Copeland and is a ministry colleague of his. This troubles me because Kenneth Copeland says some of the most outlandish things and I think he is a false prophet. (I probably would not have said this a couple years ago.)

    I believe in the spiritual gifts as you do John. But, I think some, (certainly not all), of the charismatics in the spotlight are seriously lacking in doctrinal soundness and spread alot of false teaching. The fact that Rick Renner is involved with Copeland gives me a caution light with him. But I would'nt dimiss his ministry just because of that. It does seem as thought the Lord is using him in the former Soviet Union.

    His Peace be with you,

    Alan

    Alan,

    I think you make a good point about the verse used being taken out of context, even though the point Rick is making is a good, valid and scriptural one. So I don't know if that means the post should be withdrawn... or we just find another verse to make the same point - for the point Rick makes is a very good one.. so what do you think?

    Regarding Rick Renner's ministry - it is a far reaching one - it is very probably the largest Christian ministry in the entire former Soviet Union. I have known Rick's ministry for around 15 years, and have always found his doctrine to be sound, even though I too very much question the doctrines of some of the ministries who support or attach themselves to him.

    I have spoken personally with Rick about reformed theology, and found him to be very much on board. Perhaps, over time, God may be pleased to use Rick to be something of an influence, even with the many people and ministries that do embrace him. I believe that is Rick's desire too.

    Perhaps you or I might do things differently, but I also believe that we should embrace a brother's ministry where we can, even though we may disagree with certain aspects. I tend towards embracing a man as my brother in Christ until it becomes patently obvious that it is scripturally illegitmate to do so. As far as I am concerned, I have no doubt that Rick Renner is a very dear brother in the Lord.

    John,

    I feel the same as you do. Again, I certainly feel the point of Rick's article is certainly valid although the main verse he uses is not in the context of the subject. The two verses I posted previously go along better with his points. And I too think he makes a good point. I know personally at times I have been so tired as to be of any use to anyone.

    I did see Rick one evening on TBN and was very impressed by what I heard. Although I believe TBN is a valid ministry, I do think again much discernment is needed for some of its programming as well.

    As, for your last point I agree we should embrace ministries which preach the Word and are solid on the basic doctrines of the faith. I think the main things should unite us and also if we think a person is missing it to give them time to grow -ourselves included.

    Grace, Mercy, and Peace

    Alan

    Hello, I'm the personal assistant to Rick Renner in Moscow, and webmaster for Rick Renner's blog. I occasionally check to see who's reprinting our material, and I noticed a Sparkling Gem on your site. I like the content of your site, and so long as you don't reprint whole sections of the book, I don't see any reason why you can't use the Gems from time to time in your blog. But as long as you're using our material, would you mind linking to us? Our blog address is www.rickrenner.blogs.com/rworld. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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