A Rest More Effective Than Work

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“But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”  Romans 4:5

Our attitude about God, toward God, and in God matters.  This specific attitude of Abraham called “faith” was so important that it’s mentioned basically the same way in Romans, Galatians, and James.  “Abraham believed God” and it was accounted to him as righteousness.  In James, he was even called the Friend of God because of this attitude.  So do I have this attitude?  And what does it look like?

Well, I started thinking about this yesterday.  And after I had finished, I couldn’t help but think about a phrase in Your word, Lord.  Well, I didn’t have it exactly right but I kept thinking about these words: “in rest and in quietness and in trust.”  So as I was driving and spending time talking with You, because if you turn off the radio, the quiet is a good time for that, well those words started floating around in my head.  And I knew that when I got home, I had to find that verse.

Well, I did.  Isaiah is actually speaking of the sin of Israel.  And God is telling them about the attitude they have and the actions they’ve been demonstrating because of it and the problems in their life it is causing.  And He tells them the cure.  “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  (Isaiah 30:15)  But the problem was, according to You, Lord, through Isaiah, they were unwilling.

See, Abraham got it.  I mean, he wasn’t perfect either, he was still human, but he got this idea of a proper response, a proper worship of God, of You.  It all starts with returning, “shub” or “shubah” in this instance.  It’s not just an action.  Here it’s a state of heart and mind and being.  Abraham or we turn away from whatever has kept us from You and we return to You.  There is this action on our part that totally repositions our subsequent actions and our whole focus of thinking.  The pagans sought their gods to turn to them, but God seeks us to turn to Him.  He is calling us back into our position in Him that we had before sin entered the world.  This is where we begin to find everything we have been seeking for in all the wrong things.  This is where we find satisfaction.  Up till this point, we’ve been searching in empty wells.  But the well is full and overflowing.  We just have to turn to the right well and partake.

Returning is accompanied by rest.  I don’t think they are two separate things here but the reemphasis of the first.  Remember that we returned and positioned ourselves in God.  Well, that’s were rest is found.  This is the position where my works are handed over for Your working in me.  This is where You, Lord, do the saving.  This is where You save me unto You and into You.  This is where You save me moment by moment from my self and from sin, and where You save me in You continually.  This is where You save me in every trial that rears its head against me.   This is where You save me from my wrong attitudes.

And that’s just it.  Scripture, in Psalm 67:2, talks about Your “saving power.”  It’s the Hebrew word “yasha.”  But in that verse it’s the word “yeshuateka.”  “Yeshua,” that’s Your name.  It’s Your salvation.  It’s not my power.  It’s all about returning to You and making You known.  It’s all about showing the world that our power is in You.  I find my rest in You because You are the one working in me.  How beautiful is that?  Your work in me saves me.  This is faith, letting You have Your way in me.

Where does my strength come from?  Psalm 121:1,2 says, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from where my help comes.  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  And that reminds me of when I first put my trust in You, Lord, as a 15 year old.  I remember looking up into the hills behind our church after youth group and singing this song I had learned in the Christian school I was attending- “Unto Thee, Oh Lord, do I lift up my soul, unto Thee, Oh Lord, do I lift up my soul.  Oh my God, I trust in Thee.  Let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”  That’s actually Psalm 25:1,2.  I wish I understood then what I’ve come to learn since then.  That You alone are my Help.  You are every Aid I need.  You are my Strength.  When I look up to the hills, I’m looking up to the mount where You became my Salvation which is my Help and my Strength and my Everything I Need.

“In quietness and trust shall be your strength.”  How can this be when we are taught, even within the church to be so busy?   The Hebrew word, “shaqat” has to do with inactivity, lying down, resting, not being harrassed.  It can mean me quieting myself or me being quieted.  David felt it when he shared Psalm 23.   Read it.  He said You made him lie down in green pastures.  You lead him to where the still waters are.  You restore his soul.  You do it to impart Your righteousness.  And am I any different than David?  If David, “a man after God’s own heart,” needed You to do this in him and for him, I need You to do this in and for me just as much.

So, I’m saved in this quietness You give me in You, that is only found in You.  It’s not by my works, but wholly by Yours.  And there is this confidence that I develop in You as I place my trust in You.  Because I am listening to Your voice and learning to trust and obey, because you can’t separate the two.  You speak, and like Abraham, or David, or Rahab, I listen.  I let You do what You say You will.  I let You be God in my life.  I let You settle me, lead me, restore me, turn me around.  And every time I listen and obey, I see something more of You.  Even greater, I experience something more of You.  And my confidence in You builds.  And my trust in You grows exponentially, not because of what I am doing but because of what You are doing in and through me as I allow You to have full reign and be You.  This is my strength.  You are my Strength.

It’s “not by works of righteousness which I have done” but by Your works of righteousness for me and in me and through me.  It was never about the work I do, but always about the work You do in me.  But Your work in me glorifies You and draws others to You so that they can be Your works of art and glorify You with their lives as they return and rest in You, as they find their quietness and confidence in You, as You become their strength.  This is faith.  Believing to the point of letting You have Your way in my life.  Faith is handing all of me over to You to mold into Your image of righteousness and to live You out in my life as You live through me.

Wow!  Galing!  (That’s Filipino for Wow!) Yeah, this is AWESOME stuff, because this is GOD STUFF!  I don’t have to be anybody, but just to be God’s, just to be in Christ, makes me special beyond compare.  I am everything I need to be, and everything I could ever want to be in You, Lord.  I may not compare to anyone else, but I don’t have to.  We were created to be in Your image.  And You alone make that possible and turn that into reality in my life.  That’s the only ministry I want, Lord, because everything else lacks without it.  I just want the ministry of believing, really.  I want the ministry of being in You and You being in me and being God in me and through me.  That’s what I want as my ministry.  And through that ministry, that ministry of Yours, my prayer is that I would minister to others that they would become part of Your ministry of believing.  That’s my prayer, Lord.  That’s the only ministry I want so no matter what You lead me to do, You are always ministering through me because I’m always resting in You and letting You have Your way in me.

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