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Saturday, February 28, 2015

REST...IN THE MIDST OF IT ALL!

REST! 


This is the path God is leading me down these days.  Before you mistakenly think God has allowed things to happen that have caused me to have to rest, take it easy, slow down, take a breather, be assured my life is very full of His doings now, just as much as the past 6 years and maybe even more than ever. The rest God has been leading me to and what I believe God desires for each of His children to dwell in, experience, internalize, embrace, is His rest...in the midst of it all. 
You know how it is; you hear the same topic preached, taught, and then some how it pops up in your own personal quiet-time through a devotional or scripture or on the radio, repeatedly, over a short period of time.  That’s one of the ways He delights in gaining our attention for either a new revelation from His Word or a reminder of truth He has already revealed to us, previously.  Often, we must be reminded of past-revealed truths, for some reason we simply cannot incorporate them adequately into our daily lives the first time around.



Bible Study Fellowship is studying the Life of Moses this year.  We recently finished Leviticus 25 – 26 where God teaches His people about multiple Sabbath’s.  God, Himself, took a day of “rest” following 6 days of creation, which was the first weekly Sabbath.  As God was about to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, He established the 1st year as a yearlong Sabbath for the land.  Imagine, no planting, tending crops or harvesting that first year in the Promised Land.  Would there be enough to eat?  Where would they get their food?  From then on they were to observe a 7th year Sabbath for the land.  The land was to rest every 7th year, planting was to begin again in the 8th year. In the 6th year, God promised to provide harvest enough that year, for the 7th year and until the crops were ready to be harvested in the 8th year.  A double and a half harvest in the 6th year.  That would roughly be two and a half years or 30 months where the Israelites rested and trusted God to provide.  Basically, God made sure the Israelites were given the greatest environment and opportunity to trust Him and His promises to care for them AND to keep their focus on Him AND be thankful for all He had done and was doing for them. They were to rest physically from their labor of planting, tending their crops and harvesting and they were to rest in the fact that God would faithfully provide for their every need of food, while they were resting. So what would they fill their free-time with each day?  Obviously, they would be forced to think on Him, worship Him, each and every day as their entire daily-routine of planting, tending and harvesting ceased during this time. 

Of course, this was a new generation which had spent the last 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  There was no planting, tending or harvesting during those years. God had already been providing for their every need for food and water, how was this any different? I am sure the temptation to plant was there, they wanted more than the manna God had graciously provided. His provision was not enough for the Israelites, they wanted more and bigger variety.  Sadly, this sounds all too familiar.  

 

Can you and I even imagine what this kind of faith and/or rest is really like?  I dare say, only if God allows certain things to happen in our lives that will force us to depend on Him fully.

You and I do realize, the meaning of the word worship is not just singing hymns or songs of praise when we gather corporately to do so?  It is not just praying.  It is not just reciting scriptures or praying corporately together.  It is not just hearing the Word of God proclaimed. It is not just receiving Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper.  While it can be any and all of these, worship is much more.  At the same time while any and all of these are taking place, it can be without one drop of true worship ever taking place.  True worship happens each and every time you and I encounter Yahweh, the GREAT I AM.  It is when we are confronted with His character and His actions and that encounter forces us to pause to consider, to contemplate, to be humbled in His presence. That, brothers and sisters, is worship!  We do not go to church to be in God's presence.  Many people attend church and are never present with God.  God is present in you and in me every moment of every day!  He lives in us!  We LIVE in His presence every moment of everyday!  





To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. (Romans 8:8-9, MSG)
The Israelites did not experience that kind of God's presence.  He did not indwell them 24/7.  How much more should you and I be experiencing worship, on a daily basis, since God Himself is LIVING in us?  


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Sunday, the sermon topic…“REST”.  It was shared you and I most often think of rest much different than our God.  We tend to think “rest” is when we cease doing whatever “work” we do, for a time of personal pleasure or vacation.  Yes, I guess that was the partial focus of the weekly Sabbath in the Old Testament, break from work, however, the main purpose was for worship. This 7th day Sabbath, was set to prod the Israelites into spending time thinking, contemplating, meditating on God, for all He had done and does.  Unfortunately, that eventually became nothing more than a legalistic free-for-all forcing duty without devotion. God’s original design for the Sabbath was to provide the best possible environment to create a mindset of the “worth-ship” of God.   If there is an intentional, conscious effort to keep our thoughts focused on Him, then the end result will always be, WOR(TH)SHIP!

Our worship of God is what ushers us into His-rest...in the midst of it all!

In Hebrews, the writer speaks of God’s “rest” for the believer as if it is an act of faith.  He refers to the rebellious Israelites not entering God’s rest, in the Old Testament, referring to the Promised Land. Their lack of faith prevented them from experiencing the “rest” God promised them.  While I believe “rest” refers to our salvation in some respects and the “rest” we will experience in heaven, I also believe the “rest” God provides is one in which we can live out in our daily lives.  All to often, our lack of faith prevents us from experiencing this promised blessing from God, fully, in the here and now.  Jesus, Himself…is our rest!


While you and I know the right words to say and to pray, I wonder, do our lives scream unbelief to those around us?  Or does it exude His-rest that only He can provide in the midst of our chaos?


While I so desire to enter that final-rest God has promised for those who do His will, I also desire to experience that daily-rest only total surrender to Him grants, in the here and now!   Will you join me?

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You 
in perfect peace, 
for it is trusting in You. 
 Isaiah 26:3






 

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