35:1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Genesis 35:1,2
Many times I speak to people who cannot rest. Sleep has fled from them. They spend hours up at night without any ability to find rest and fill their minds with endless worries, bitterness, and self condemnation. The end of the night at least bring relief from the darkness.
There are many things that we can do when we are feeling overcome by such strong emotions. One of them is to hear God’s call to come and worship HIM. To center ourselves in HIM. To rest in HIM. To come back to “Bethel” or “God’s house”
What are the “Bethels” of our lives. For Jacob this is where he had his first face to face encounter with God that gave him purpose and promise. For us it is those times when we felt or saw God’s intervention in our lives. For Christians one such event would be when we really understood and experienced forgiveness by the acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal prophet, priest, king, LORD, and Savior. But there can be other “Bethels” in our lives. Times when prayers were answered, events in worship that turned us in new directions, or encounters with God in Scripture that transformed our character. Reviewing our spiritual journey and finding the “mountain top” experineces can help us to remember what God has been doing and provide for us a sense of HIS personal promise and purpose for our lives.
To center ourselves in God we have to decide to go to a place where we can seek the Lord. This may be a church, a beach, the woods, or our living room. It has to be a time and place where our purpose of going to that particular place at that particular time is to worship God. It is a time to present ourselves to God as those who have died with Christ and been risen now as living sacrifices in the Messiah (Romans 12:1,2). It is a time where we hope to encounter God once again as we remember we have encountered him at times in the past.
If you have never encountered God before then it is time to seek your first “Bethel”. A time to set apart time and focus to just wanting to rest in God by the wonderful work of of Messiah Jesus. It is time to find promise and purpose in God’s plan for you. A place you might want to start can be found in the following “Falling Plates” video http://www.fallingplates.com/
Now as we move towards this encounter with God in Christ we not to get rid of somethings. These are the other things we treat as ultimate concerns in our lives. These are our idols. Those things that we have attempted to find promise and purpose in apart from God. These things can be immoral and unhealthy. Clearly things that take from us sanity, stability, and spirituality. They are our vices not our virtues. We must be willingto confess them and seek divine grace to depart from them. To stop trusting in them. Give up the idea that we will sin to win.
However, we must also strive to cut ourselves lose from making even good things the ultimate sourece of what we trust in to give our life promise and purpose. Our righteousness that has become perverted into self righteousness and pride. Our families that have become co-dependent relationship cults of unhealthy dynamics where we live only for the people in our lives. Whatever has taken the place of dependence, trust, and rest in God has to be confronted and placed back into its right place in our priorities. These idols must also be confronted.
So taking a time to get centered. To sort all this out in our hearts before God. To determine to seek the Lord and hope to encounter him in worship, confession, repentance, and remembering. To go back to “Bethel” or to come to “Bethel” for the first time. Such moments of centering can be critical for us to end the confusion and stress we feel.
How do I seek “Bethel” in my life
1. Find a practical physical place of security, comfort, and contempation
2. Ask to become aware of God’s presence. Just be still for one minute. Strive to stop all your thoughts.
3. Confess those people and things that have become your source of peace, promise, and purpose. Confess your vices. Confess good things that have become to great in your life. Seek a new mind and outlook on these things. Let go of these things to God.
4. Remember the times that God has come to you. Review the moments of God with gratitude of the Lord’s intervention in your life. Allow yourself to see in the Lord your peace, promise, and purpose.
5. Express gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness to God in Christ Jesus.
Today would be a good day to go plan a visit to “Bethel.”