Find God’s Rest

 

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This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…. (Isaiah 30:15)

 

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

 

the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted (Isaiah 30:26b)

 

                Many times, we’ve heard that we are to take the yoke of Christ for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). A yoke is meant for two animals to be bound together so that the weaker can find grow in strength from the stronger, more experienced animal. Christ died to carry our burdens and to allow us to take His yoke as opposed to struggle with our own. The Old Testament passages above speak of the same God willing to unload us of our troubles. We are called to rest in our salvation because our trust in Him is our strength. God strength is shown in our weakness. Sometimes that weakness is simply found in the submission of rest. When we stop trying to fight the hand of God as He guides us we can we can find the grace His steadfast love offers, and the compassion found in His justice.

 

                I was thinking about the quality of meekness as this passage opened up to me. As a fruit of the Spirit we are called to meekness which make the Lord our vindicator. The definition of meek is humbly patient or submissive. We are not to vindicate ourselves against the things that come against us as we walk submitted to the Lord. Any battle we fight will have to be continually fought with small no real victory. As believers our victory is in submission to God who wins all battles and brings them to completion. Once God is fighting for us the battle will be over and our peace and joy will continue in Him.

 

                Then we come to the last passage above. God allows the trials in life to come against us so that we can draw closer to Him, our Refuge. It also allows us to submit to His yoke and grow in patience and meekness. What a blessing to see above that God intends to bind up the wounds caused by His affliction. Anything God takes away He does for our good, binds our wounds and draws us into His peace and the closer relationship with Him. Take up the yoke of Christ God has provided in His love. Let God be your Vindicator, Provider, Counselor, and Strength. He wins all battles and heals all wounds, but only if your faith will rise up to allow it.

 

Worthless Wonders

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They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved…. When the Lord heard them, he was furious; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (Psalm 78:18,21-22)

In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. (Psalm 78:32)

 

       When events happen in our life that are contrary to our plans or painful for us, we seek God to deliver us from that circumstance. We ask for a miracle that will make the problems and pain go away. We want immediate relief and resolution so that we don’t have to suffer. There are times when God will bring miracles to His children but there are many times when the trouble is the beginning of a process.

       God in His infinite wisdom allows these troubles to draw us into relationship with Him as our faith in Him grows. Faith in His love, protection, provision, and plan for our life. The Bible shows us what society verifies everyday: Wonders do no good. We draw to God in trouble as our faith is genuinely grown. Our short attention span draws us to the situations that are immediate in our life. We easily forget what God has done for us both in big ways and in the things we take for granted. It’s a miracle that you have the opportunity to have a relationship with God. Of all the lost souls on this earth God has chosen you to walk with Him in adoption as His child.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5)

       The Old Testament is filled with examples of God performing miracles and the people immediately returning to idols instead of God. Then God allows troubles to come upon His chosen, they seek Him in these times, He delivers them, and they turn again to worldly idols. Even if a devout follower of Jesus were given their requests immediately as miracles each time they asked, the relationship with God would suffer. The faith He desires to be at the center of that relationship would fade over time, and He would assume the role of a genie who grants wishes, no faith, trust, or relationship required.

     Our perfect and all wise God knows what His children need to grow. His greatest desire is to be glorified as we grow in deeper relationship to Him. The depth comes from faith, trust and dependence through submission to His will. Focus your eyes in Him and watch Him guide your steps. It is then that you will discover the life He has for you. A life full of peace and joy that not only passes all understanding but also your wildest dreams.

Shallow End Swimmers

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                The relationship God desires with His children calls us into the deep and of the metaphorical swimming pool. You can never feel the power of God fully manifesting in your life until you can’t touch the bottom anymore. Your Father is calling you into the deep water where He is your Sustainer and your own provision is exhausted. You either admitted your best attempts are worthless or they have left you empty.

                The deep water is where we find spiritual connection with God. We have a heart-felt connection with His love and His Spirit fills us. Our trust and faith have lead us to follow Him into the deep water where our reliance on His will and bigger plan matures our faith and grows us. God has plans for us that exceed our wildest dreams. Those plans are found in the deep waters where He grows our character to receive something we could not handle otherwise. It is through growing closer to Him that we can see His bigger plan and walk in a way that glorifies Him in His provision.

                The shallow end of the pool, where most people are too afraid to leave, reflects self-reliance. We feel ok as long as our feet are touching bottom and we perceive that we have any control over what is going to happen. We have a mental connection to God but our reliance on our flesh makes us too heavy to tread water. We find security in our own abilities and the things that the world can provide. We are in danger of missing the plans that God has to grow us. There is also the inevitability that God’s full power will never be able to fully manifest in our lives.

                I pray that each of us will seek God in the deep waters. We will allow our water treading muscles to grow. As we rest in God our weight becomes irreverent as we find rest in Him. Our best efforts in life will never compare to what the Lord has for us. Our best will always be incomplete because God is not there with us. If we rely on God and walk the path He has, we will find rest and we can always be sure that His plan is one of completion. Our daily battle to maintain stability will fade away and His peace and joy will fill our hearts as His Spirit overflows from us. Follow God into the deep water and see His glory manifest in and through you.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Silent Faith

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 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. (Luke 1:18-22)

The Scripture above is part of the story that tells us about an angel of the Lord telling the father of John the Baptist of his upcoming conception and birth. John’s father, Zechariah was a priest. The angel came to him as he was doing his duty in the temple. Zechariah’s disbelief was met with an inability to speak. This scripture spoke to me. I don’t see this inability to speak as a punishment but a gift. Not only was Zechariah left alone with the ability to only communicate with God, but his doubt was also kept to himself and away from those who looked up to him as a priest.

 [In Scripture silence was the prelude to extraordinary events. It was a sign that God was about to work… he could not be allowed to take his doubt out to the people.  It was thus not just a punishment. It was a chastening with a purpose. – Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible]

[When this realization struck home, the crowds knew they he had seen a vision in the temple and that God was about to do something marvelous in their midst (v. 22).- Bible.org]

            Many times, in midst of our troubles, we run to earthly comforts. It might be a substance or people. In doing this we run the risk of turning away from a God that uses troubles to draw us to Him. He wants us to rely on Him so that He can groom us for our purpose. “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 13:6) When we run to other things to comfort us we leave God out of the process He is drawing us to in our trouble. I feel the silence of Zechariah represents our tendency to pour out our hurt, doubt, disbelief, and frustration to the people around us who God desires to influence with our faith and obedience. God wants the people around us to see His work in us. Don’t be quick to spread your doubt and hurt to anyone around you. Seek wise counsel from other believers to speak the truth of God to you in your difficulty. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;  let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope (Lamentations 3:25-29)

 for when our faith is weak, and we throw out many obstacles, the truth of God, in continuing to flow toward us must, of necessity, break through them with a kind of violence – Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible

Changed By The Spirit

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                Many people who come to know Jesus as their Savior feel that once they’ve accepted Him, they have reached a point of completion. In terms of salvation their faith has brought them into relationship and reconciliation with God. It is sad when they stop at that point and miss out on the opportunity to submit to God and let Him take control of the life He created for a specific purpose, greater than they can imagine. They don’t acknowledge the new life given to them through Jesus. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Reconciliation to God through faith in Jesus tears down the house we’ve built for ourselves with the fleshly materials of this world and allows the construction of a Spirit based house on the foundation of our Savior. The problem arises when we try to build that new life in our own power. For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:18-19) We must rely on the Holy Spirit of God to bring lasting change to our lives. We fall victim to legalism and religion when we try to do God’s work for Him. As we dwell in this world we only have access to worldly materials to build ourselves. It’s important that we let God sanctify our new hearts and draw us out of the slavery to this sinful world. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:9) The laws that guided people in the Old Testament to rely and focus on God are just shadows of what we have in the light of Jesus Christ. I’m not referring to the moral laws that Christ fulfills in His call for us to love God and our neighbors. I refer to the sacramental and ritual laws that kept eyes and dependence on God until His chosen could be reconciled through faith in His Son. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24) Don’t fall backward into trying to work for God. Humble yourself to His will and what He wants to do in your heart. Let His infinite power create lasting change, and let that power fight these battles to completion. Live by the Spirit and let your works honor God because of His love, not to attain the love you already have. Let God do the work in your heart and your life that you are unable to accomplish because we were designed to live in reliance on our Creator through faith and love for our Savior. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)

Fallibility of FEAR (Jealousy/ 3 of 10)

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Fear as Resentment/Jealousy

Resentment and jealousy can come from a fear of inadequacy. We see people either getting away with sin or excelling in their sin. We in turn become resentful that we live a life pleasing to God and they seem to be more abundant in God’s provision. That is not the case. These people are gathering worldly riches which are but dust in the eye of eternity. As God’s chosen we have become eternal beings. We must see their gain in the proper light. God provides for His children what they need to grow in a way pleasing to Him, a way that will benefit His eternal kingdom. When you are a child of God you are no longer able to be inadequate. You must view things in this new context. Do not envy the lives of others. Their path is not yours. God designed your path just for you. Use His provision to learn and grow into Christ-likeness: fearless.

Self-Righteous

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(Philippians 3:9-11) and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead

                Believing that following rules (laws) makes you any closer to God is false. If it were true then the death of Jesus would not have been necessary. God wouldn’t have had prophets telling of our eternal king alongside the laws of the Old Testament if they were sufficient. The scripture above tells us that the righteousness of God is found in Jesus. Trusting in the law for “righteousness of our own” is a neglecting of Christ and a belief that our righteousness is better than God’s. It means not having ‘faith’ in the ‘power of His resurrection’.

In God’s desire to reconcile YOU to Him for all eternity, He decided to fulfill the law with the blood of the Savior one last time. The law required blood without blemish to forgive sin. God became the only sinless man who will ever exist for the purpose of showing the power of the spirit, the example of Godlikeness, then suffering and dying for YOU. If God has chosen to fulfill the law, then why do some people choose to turn back and ignore the new covenant for the old? Accepting Christ means allowing the Spirit to indwell in you and show forth fruit, against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:23).