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Rest, My Soul

July 24th, 2018

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:7)

How often our souls are restless, constantly turning in doubts, accusations, and troubling thoughts. Worries flood our minds and destroy our peace. What remedy does God have for these thoughts?

Friends and happy circumstances that lift our emotions are some of God’s remedies. Blessings and even memories of past blessings can bring some peace to us and make us grateful. Music, calm surroundings, even fun and entertainment can also give us some relief. Yet none of these things really depend on us. All are unpredictable, temporary, and happenstance. God has something better for us to hang on to that brings spiritual rest and peace to our souls: God’s own Word.

The psalmist commands his own soul to return to its rest, and that command rests upon the word of the Lord. Do not depend on circumstances to give you rest. Learn to return through faith to your rest that is prepared by God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Learn to stand on the promises of God. This is the victory of our faith, and faith must rest in God and leave the struggles and fears of our hearts in His hands. We may return to our true spiritual rest everyday, in every situation, through simple, child-like faith.

Do your sins trouble you? Then rest upon and within His grace: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12)

There was a time in my life when I was troubled over my sins, wondering if God could truly forgive me for my many failures. Victory came through the study of His Word, especially Romans 8:1 – “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” – and I could to say to my own soul, “Either God has forgiven me through Christ Jesus or He has not. I choose to believe what His Word says, that I am forgiven.” In that simple faith, my rest was restored. And whenever doubt has raised its head, I return to that passage, and others, and claim again the promise of His Word.

Does the future frighten you? Then trust in the promise of God:

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:30-33)

Are you afraid of loneliness and of being forgotten? Remember what Christ said: “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you” (John 14:18). Paul gave this testimony:

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Tim. 4:16-18)

Are you concerned with eternity, wondering what lies beyond the grave? Trust in the words of Christ:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Every challenge of life, every thought that might rob our souls of peace, has an answer and remedy in His Word. Learn to trust and to stand on His Word. Enjoy the pleasant circumstances and mood-altering moments He sends along the way, but know that they are all fleeting. Establish the habit of returning regularly to God’s rest for your soul by trusting in His promises.

Psalms

The Higher Rock

July 20th, 2018

From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

The wise man feels his need for the Lord’s strength, guidance, and help. God rescues us both from within and without. He leads from within by the act of transformation, leading us to be patient and kind, instead of reactionary and uncaring. He leads from without by changing circumstances and delivering us from overwhelming temptations. Many shut doors are not cruelly closed by God, but in love He is removing from us circumstances for which we are not ready.

Lead me

We must be led by God to search for what is greater than we are in ourselves. God creates a thirst for something better and greater than we have in ourselves. Failure and setbacks and frustrations are God’s way of teaching us to search for something greater. He leads us to higher rocks by showing us what we are not yet but would like to become.

The first three attributes of the Spirit’s fruit is “love, joy, peace.” This triad shows three things that we all want. God begins his work in us by giving us what we do not have and in measures that we do not experience in life – endless love, boundless joy, immeasurable peace. These make us want to thirst for more and more of God and from God. And surely if we do not have more, these will not last.

To the Rock more patient than I

Peace will not last where there is no patience. We need to draw on the Lord’s patience when we have none in ourselves. When we are discouraged with circumstances and people, when we are out of endurance and patience within us, then it is we need to lean more heavily than before on the strength and patience of Christ. Oh, for the patient peace of Christ that would allow me to sit quietly in meetings without impure or angry thoughts crossing my mind!

To the Rock more kind than I

Kipling aspired to “fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run” and we need to do more than merely endure. We must also in the midst of frustrating circumstances convey a message of love and hope. It may feel like victory if we merely keep quiet, but we need to do more than that. We must be kind and caring. In the fruit of the Spirit, “patience” is followed by “kindness” and “goodness.” We will only be as patient as we are kind and only be as kind as we are good.

To the Rock that is stronger than I

And “goodness” is followed by “faithfulness” and then by “gentleness” or “meekness.” These two traits are more than mere attitudes that we try to put on. They are the transforming work of Christ in our lives that He achieves by His Spirit. We are weak in faith but God always is confident in what He is doing. When we seek to be strong in ourselves we will stumble over the plan and means of God. But if we can be meek and gentle and surrender to Him, then He can change us.

To the Rock that is more disciplined than I

The final attribute of the Spirit’s fruit is self-discipline, or “sound mindedness.” It is on the list, but it is the last on the list. Think how differently this passage would read if it were first. Though a result of the work of the Spirit, if it were first on the list, then we would take credit in ourselves for everything else. But though it is on the list, it is last on the list.

Divine love makes for more discipline in life, more control over sinful urges. The divine love of God let’s us know that we can trust our souls to Him, that we can open our hearts all the way and lay them before Him. We will find grace and patience and love and acceptance in Him. The sin He forgives and cleans away, and He reshapes us into people of eternal hope.

When you feel weak, turn to God in prayer. Admit your weakness and surrender to Him. Allow Him to do in you what only He can do! He is the Rock that is higher than you!

Psalms, Spiritual Growth