Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Peace, Rest, and Stillness

Peace, rest, and stillness.  These are the things the Lord has been weaving through my heart and soul. These are the things I share here with you.

Psalm 1:1-3
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

Colossians 1
We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,  who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

I want to be a woman who is like the tree planted by the water in Psalm 1.  How does that happen?  By meditating on His word to us.  We grow as we learn to know God better and better. This is why the Psalm 1 tree can bear fruit in every season.  It's also how we can be filled with joy and choose to be thankful every single day, because He has saved us from darkness. Do you remember the darkness He rescued you from?

Psalm 1:3 tells us the tree's leaves will never wither and will prosper in all they do. The word “prosper” is fascinating to me. It means “to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable.” Strong's Exhaustive Concordance adds “break out, come mightily, go over, be good, be meet, be profitable, cause to, effect.”

How we spiritual prosperity is not the same as the world's definition of prosperity. Spiritual prosperity is growing in the knowledge of His will and having spiritual wisdom and understanding.  It's honoring and pleasing the Lord and producing every kind of good fruit, growing as we learn to know God better and better.  Through this knowledge and His glorious power, we are strengthened, having all the endurance and patience we need supplied by Him.  Through this, we are filled with joy, thanking the Father.
 I am so thankful He supplies our endurance and patience.  Mine runs out.  Sometimes I'm astounded by how quickly.  Other times, I am reminded we are running a a marathon.  Just. Keep. Going.  And when it's hard to keep going, trust Him to carry you.

Colossians 1:13 NKJ

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

As I started thinking about these two sections of scripture, I noticed the word “planted,” in Psalm 1, which also means “transplanted.”  Then I looked at verse 13 in Colossians which tells us we have been "delivered," which means “to draw to oneself, to rescue,” and we have been conveyed, or “transferred,” into the kingdom of the Son, Jesus. I love that word picture. He has drawn us to Himself and rescued us.  He scooped us up at just the right time, didn't He?  Jesus' work of reconciliation with the Father was the payment for our being transferred into His kingdom. He has transplanted us from darkness into His light. That work has already been done. Yet it's the daily walking out of our faith, our choice to continue to allow ourselves to be drawn to Him, (to think about, rely, and wait on Him,) that is when we will be strengthened and become like the tree in Psalm 1:3, firmly planted along the riverbank – by the water, the Living Water Himself, Jesus!  As we stay by the water (Him,) meditating on His words and ways, resting in His Spirit, we will naturally produce good fruit each season. We will have strong, healthy roots, free of bitterness and anything else that will ultimately bring death in our lives – our leaves will not be withered, and we will prosper in what He's called us to do, because it will be in His strength and timing.

Isaiah 26:3-4 tells us,

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

Peace... what the world, and so often, we Christians, lack in our lives. This world is busy and spinning and everything around us calls us and beckons us and seeks to persuade us to keep ourselves busy, too busy for Jesus...too busy to spend time in His word, resting in His presence, sitting at His feet. I am convinced this is the enemy of a fruitful life in Christ. When trials attacks come (and they are PROMISED to come,) the LORD is the only One Who keeps us in perfect peace. “Keeps” means "to guard, watch, watch over, to preserve, to keep from danger, to guard with fidelity, watchman." “Perfect peace” means "completeness, soundness, welfare, health, prosperity, peace, safety, welfare, quiet, tranquillity, contentment." “Stayed” - to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, lean upon, sustain, refresh, revive. As we lean on Him (keep our mind "stayed" on Him,) we rest in Him, let Him support, sustain, refresh, and uphold us, He keeps (guards and watches over) us in perfect peace (complete safety and contentment.) Isn't that amazing?  When we choose to lean on Jesus, we are putting our trust in His ability to handle it. To  “trust” is "to have confidence in, to be bold, be secure, to be safe and carefree." As one Hebrew lexicon explains, “to confide in, to set one's hope and confidence be secure, to fear nothing for oneself.” fear nothing for oneself.  When we're trusting in Him, we are relying on His everlasting, unwavering, unchanging, continuous strength.  We don't need to fear.

Isaiah 26:4 
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the
Lord, is everlasting strength.”

Strength – rock, rock wall, block of stone, of course, Jesus is the rock.
...I knew a couple whose baby girl was injured during labor and delivery and she was born only to pass on a few hours after her birth. I remember watching them walk through that trial, leaning on Jesus and trusting in His goodness even when they didn't understand. Later on, the husband shared with us that after going through that trial, he's not afraid of anything anymore. He had been through the worst, and his faith in Christ had been strengthened through the testing of that fiery trial...he is a very dangerous man in the kingdom of God - one who fears Christ alone.

Isaiah 26: 12-13
 Lord, You will establish peace for us,
For You have also done all our works in us.
O Lord our God, masters besides You
Have had dominion over us;
But by You only we make mention of Your name.

"Establish" means "to set, place, put, ordain."  This tells us He will place peace in us. He is the one working in and through us. Isn't that a load off?  Do you realize He never intended for you to do it on your own? He intends for us to come to Him, you who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest.  We were once ruled by our flesh and worshipped other gods, but now, in Christ, we worship Him alone. We don't have to be overwhelmed with life. We don't have to yell rant and rave and complain or let the storm rage in our hearts.  We can choose to have peace and thank and worship Him, no matter what the circumstance may be.

Psalm 46:10
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.

What does that mean, to be "still?"  It means "to sink, relax, sink down, let drop, withdraw, idle, abandon, refrain, forsake, to let go, let alone, to be quiet, to show oneself slack."  "Know" means "to learn to know, to learn by experience, perceive, be instructed."

Is this what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like?  The stillness in this verse allows us to let go, to be quiet, and relax.  As we do this, we learn by experience Who God is as we sit still, quiet our hearts and minds, and experience Him as we learn from Him.  Thankfully, we can also rest in knowing that He will be exalted. We are blessed to exalt Him now as we look forward to the day when He will be exalted by all, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD!

Jesus spoke to the storm and said, “Peace, be still,” in Mark 4:26. "Peace," "to be silent, hold one's peace, metaph. of a calm, quiet sea, to close the mouth with a muzzle, to muzzle."

As we cast all our cares on Him, pouring our hearts out to Him, we can let it all go.  Then we are able to sit quietly and listen, allowing His Spirit to work in our hearts and bring the peace, rest, and stillness we so desperately desire.  Go to Him.  Everything you need - your deepest, innermost heart's desires are only met in that deep place of intimacy with your maker.  Pour out your heart.  Let it go.  Let Him carry it.  It's not for you anymore!  He will watch over you.  Trade in your heart's hurts and longings for His gift of perfect peace and overflowing love. Let Him weave a beautiful work of peace and rest into your soul.  He is the one doing all the work in you (Isaiah 26:12.) Let Him. 

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