Sunday, September 21, 2014

Laboring to enter His rest

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Hebrews 4:10 NASB
True inner freedom arises when a man or woman doesn’t have anything to prove, when what he or she does isn’t an attempt to earn something missing or to impress others. When service isn’t motivated to make up for personal deficits and an individual moves towards others motivated by a sincere interest in their welfare, this person is entering into His rest (Philippians 1:15-16) (Philippians 2:20) (Philippians 3:19)

Rest is a by-product of not being on a desperate search to meet my yearning for security, significance and self-worth by who I know or what I do. It comes from the experience of having my longings met by in an ever-increasing intimacy with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Rest frees a person to be able to do what he or she does by faith that expresses itself through love (Galatians 5:6). It liberates a person to genuinely care about what is best for others as in Philippians 2:3-4.

Entering the rest permits me to draw near to God because of who He is rather than for what I can get. Rest is freedom from the tyranny of the self-oriented focus that deficit motivation creates, and the birth of a focus on sincerely loving God and others from the heart (1 Peter 1:22). It has to do with recanting unwise vows and giving up my self-protective strategies (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). It is related to His magnificent power being revealed in my paralyzing weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It means taking my place as a sheep and giving over the reigns to the Shepherd. Rest is Christ being formed more and more fully, and completely deep within me (Galatians 4:19).
Rest is not being completely free from struggle and difficulty. It is not a vaccination against misfortune. It does not mean things will turn out just as I had hoped in every situation. Rest does not guarantee that I will not fail or be hurt by others. It carries no warranty against disappointment, nor does it mean that what I do will not require personal sacrifice and discipline. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

From God’s perspective, the desired by-product of the trials and crisis we go through is to draw us closer and closer to the realization of the utter foolishness of trying to satisfy our deep innermost longings with our good works (Philippians 3:8-9), productivity, and polluted well-drilling (Jeremiah 2:13). It represents a unique opportunity in our lives to see the futility of our carnally motivated pursuits and come to a much greater and purer dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:20-21). It's an invitation to resolve unfinished business from the past (Psalm 147:3-5) that we somehow never got around to, face hidden pain, feel it, examine it, dialogue with God about so He can heal it (Isaiah 61:1), and triumph over it by faith through the grace revealed at the Cross (Romans 8:37).

At first, the idea of laboring to enter rest doesn't quite compute for most of us. Rest somehow doesn’t seem compatible with living and laboring among the lost (Matthew 11:28-30). However, when we consider the deep day-to-day struggles most of us go through, we see that without diligent work, devoting ourselves to time alone with God, getting help where we need it, and dealing with the past; we will never come to the point of entry. We may make external readjustments, change jobs, replace one strategy for another, change life-styles or other external things … but unless we uncover and deal with root issues (Hebrews 12:14-15) we will not enter the rest.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:8-10

Listening Prayer Exercise

     The satisfaction of our spiritual thirst is an extremely powerful and driving force behind most of what we do.
  • When we say that people thirst for security, we mean that we yearn to be loved and accepted completely for who we are.
  • The yearning for self-worth carries with it the idea that in the core of our being we desire to experience ourselves as valued and having real worth.
  • We also hunger to have our lives count for something that we consider to be important: we thirst for significance. 
Thirst is not at first recognized in most people (John 4:13-15). We may have chosen to deny it, disguise it, satisfy it illegitimately, reduce it, or minimize it in some other way.   

After praying through the Listening to God Guidelines, dedicate 15 to 30 minutes listening to God over the following questions.

1.   What is my deepest longing (security, significance or self-worth)?

2.   What do I usually look to satisfy my yearnings? (i.e. other people, people pleasing, my performance, perfectionism, my work, my spouse, my family, my intimate relationship with God, etc.) ___________________________________________________________________

3.   Lord Jesus, what do you have to say to me about quenching my thirst? ___________________________________________________________________

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