Jesus, I am coming, coming...for rest!

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Come to Me...and I will give you rest...Matthew 11:28

Rest is a fragile thing!

The thoughtless slight, the smallest disappointment, the embarrassing mistake, the insecure thought...as well as the big stuff of life, like health, marriage, family, financial crises...

All can dispel our peace and rest.  And anapausis, that inner tranquility of soul, can be gone in a flash!

Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

Over the years, as I've "struggled" at times to be at rest, I have come back to several readings in O. Chambers' uplifing devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  All of the entries are based on Jesus' invitation and promise in Matthew 11:28.

As you read, may you be encouraged, as I always am, to respond to our Lord's COME and receive His anapausis (inner rest) for your soul. [Note: these are excerpts; to read the devotionals in their entirety, click on the title of each]:

Self-Consciousness

...Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.

Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ.

...Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately.

Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one – Come unto Me....

peaceful walk

peaceful walk

Completeness

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace.Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all.

Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute....

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.

restful cross

restful cross

After Surrender— Then What?

True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will....

Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— Come to Me.  And it is a voluntary coming....

The 'Mysterious' Will of God

The will of God is a mystery (in Bible terms),...but is it really mysterious?  I love these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest:

Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. (Psalm 25:12). At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually,we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?” (June 3)

The disciple who abides in Jesus is the will of God, and what appears to be his free choices are actually God’s foreordained decrees. Is this mysterious? Does it appear to contradict sound logic or seem totally absurd? Yes, but what a glorious truth it is to a saint of God. (June 7)

So it seems we make it mysterious because of our struggle and confusion, doesn't it?

When we were studying Paul's epistle to the Colossians, we found that the will of God is a much more glorious thing than we usually think.  And we are one with His will through our union with Christ.

In a post from that study, I tell a little bit of my own struggle and search.  Maybe you'll see some of yours there.

Let's take a look and rejoice in our God who enables us to "get it" about His will in His Son:

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When I was a young child, my mom would sit me next to her on our couch and "read" to me from our family Bible.  You know the one:  leather, thick, heavy with gold-gilded edges and red and black print.

I knew this was an important book, because it had pages that recorded births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of family members.  But more than that, I knew it was important because of the full-page, glossy, color "holy pictures."  I remember how Mommy would tell me "God's stories" from God's book using those beautiful pictures.

It was during those times, that I fell in love with God and Jesus and heaven and spiritual things...and something else...the Will of God!  My mom would constantly say that the most important thing in life was to do the Will of God.  So this became my my goal...my paradigm...my mantra, at a very early age -- to do the Will of God!

What a mysterious thing, the Will of GodMY journey (and at times, search) took me through obeying the rules of my church (as God's will), to several years in a convent (believing it was the best thing to do for love of God), to searching the Scriptures to see what GOD (not man) said, to exchanging one to do list for another until finally the burden was so hard and heavy, I gave up!  Really!

And you know what?  That's when I discovered the True Will of God...Christ Jesus my Lord -- WHO He is and WHAT He has done!  Oh, I already knew Him...but I needed to KNOW Him truly!  And in knowing HIM truly, I came to realize that HE is the Will of God!

If you've been following along with us in the letter to the Colossians, you've discovered the heart of Paul's prayer in the first chapter.  His main request is that the believers would be filled with (be controlled by and absorbed with) a true, deep, accurate knowledge of God's Will:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives... Col 1:9 NIV

This Will of God is a much bigger thing than what we think.  We usually assume it refers to what we do today or tomorrow, who we marry, where we go on vacation, what car we should buy, etc.  Now these all may be affected by our knowing the Will of God.

But primarily the Will of God has to do with His good pleasure in His Son Jesus Christ and the Father's Plan carried out in and through HIM!  That's good news, because it's all about HIM!  I reap the benefits, but I'm I also empowered (through His indwelling) to make my choices according to this HUGE, AWESOME WILL of GOD!  What a privilege to be part of something bigger than myself!

OK, you say...chapter and verse, please!  The cool thing is that Paul wrote another letter to a church not far from Colossae.  In fact, he wrote it at the same time and sent it by the same messenger.  So we would naturally assume Paul would have the same thing in mind when he wrote to the church in Ephesus,

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:8-10 NIV

That's it!  His pleasure and purpose in Christ!  Did you notice as you read and looked for the references to prayer in Colossians, that Paul wasn't the only one who prayed this way.  Paul says of Epaphras, the young pastor of the Colossian church,

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Col 4:12 NIV

Why did Paul and Epaphras pray for the believers to really "get it" about God's Will in Christ?  Paul prays on...

...so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Col 1:10-12 NIV

Paul knew that getting it about Christ is the only paradigm that can produce a God-pleasing, fruitful Christian walkNo Christian "to do list" can produce this!  It's a work of illumination/revelation by the Spirit of God.  Thus Paul's prayer!

And so, dear friends, when we pray for ourselves or for someone we love, why not start out with the heart of all prayer?  Our deepest need is to be filled with (and so controlled by) a true, heart knowledge of God's Will in the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This absorption, this getting it about Christ will then have an explosive and expulsive effect*-- changing our thinking, our attitudes, our affections, our choices, and thus our behavior.  And it will result in a life worthy of and pleasing to the Lord!

THE PERFECT WISDOM OF OUR GOD

Revealed in all the universe: All things created by His hand, And held together at His command. He knows the mysteries of the seas, The secrets of the stars are His; He guides the planets on their way, And turns the earth through another day.

The matchless wisdom of His ways That mark the path of righteousness His word a lamp unto my feet His Spirit teaching and guiding me And O the mystery of the cross That God should suffer for the lost So that the fool might shame the wise And all the glory might go to Christ!

O grant me wisdom from above, To pray for peace and cling to love, And teach me humbly to receive The sun and rain of Your sovereignty. Each strand of sorrow has a place Within this tapestry of grace; So through the trials I choose to say: “Your perfect will in Your perfect way.”

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2011 Thankyou Music & Getty Music

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL3MabWr5cM[/youtube]

 

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A challenge for those who want to go deeper:

Read this sermon by Thomas Chalmers (19th century):  The Expulsive Power of a New Affection This is really long, and it's not for the faint of heart.  But it's right on target!

Here's a short synopsis:

The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil. We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart, than to keep in our hearts the love of God - and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than building ourselves up on our most holy faith. Dr Ray Pritchard

Jesus, I am coming, coming...

Come to Me...and I will give you rest...Matthew 11:28

Rest is a fragile thing!

The thoughtless slight, the smallest disappointment, the embarrassing mistake, the insecure thought...as well as the big stuff of life, like health, marriage, family, financial crises...

All can dispel our peace and rest.  And anapausis, that inner tranquility of soul, can be gone in a flash!

Over the years, as I've "struggled" at times to be at rest, I have come back to several readings in O. Chambers' uplifing devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  All of the entries are based on Jesus' invitation and promise in Matthew 11:28.

As you read, may you be encouraged, as I always am, to respond to our Lord's COME and receive His anapausis (inner rest) for your soul. [Note: these are excerpts; to read the devotionals in their entirety, click on the title of each]:

Self-Consciousness

...Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him.

Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ.

...Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately.

Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one – Come unto Me....

Completeness

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace.Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all.

Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute....

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.

After Surrender— Then What?

True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will....

Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— Come to Me.  And it is a voluntary coming....

Regret...or Re-NEW?

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

Everyone has regrets...it's part of the human condition!

We regret our offenses:

hurts we have caused

sins we've committed

walls we've built up toward others

We regret our missed opportunities:

to take advantage of new, though frightening, possibilities

to choose love in difficult relationships

to die to our own selfishness in order to serve

And the lists go on...and the regrets can eat you alive

...maybe because we can't believe we were so selfish or foolish!

...maybe because we can't undo them!

...maybe because those opportunities are gone forever!

But whatever the regret or the reason, if we are to begin afresh in the NEW YEAR, we need to put the past to rest...to rest, that is, in the hands of our Sovereign Father God.

Oswald Chambers says it well, speaking of the regret Christ's disciples must have felt when they didn't watch and pray with the Lord...

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair [...regret?].

The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair.

But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing."

In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them.

The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.

If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption. Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

Jesus is in the redeeming and renewing business.  He has promises that are sure:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.    1 John 1:7-9

So we can flip the page of the calendar to this new year...trusting that our Sovereign God is weaving everything in our lives-- past, present, and future--including our faults, failures, and yes, even our sin (because of His grace) into the beautiful tapestry of His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14: Romans 8:28-39).

My life is like a weaving Between my Lord and me I do not chose the colors He worketh patiently Sometimes He weaveth sorrow And I in foolish pride Forgets He sees the upper And I the underside

Not till the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly Shall God unroll the canvas And explain the reasons why The dark threads are as needful In the Weaver's skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned

(author unknown)