4/09
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Fruitful Rest   “Be still and know that I am God...” (Ps. 46:10a) “In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength… (Is. 30:15a).   The birds’ song broke through the silence at the genesis of creation. The fish newly formed found water as their home. Light and dark, herbs and trees, mountains and valleys came into existence at the voice of the Lord’s command.  Yet fellowship was His ultimate intent.  To have a creation so like Him, that He could see His reflection of love and glory displayed through all eternity with ones who would desire His friendship above all else.  On the sixth day, man and woman fulfilled His greatest  vision.  The delegation began. “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” (Gen. 1:28).  Not a small task for “ones so young.”  The seventh day,  “God ended his work which he had made; and he rested...”  This day of completion signified man’s first full day.  I sense their “task” was joining with the Father in this day of rest.        The Jewish day begins at sundown.  Interesting that the early hours start with rejuvenating the body, soul, and spirit.   The first weekday is on Shabbat, Saturday, an ordained day of fellowship,  contemplation, and ceased labors.  This simple shift changes our mindset from the dictates of sleep at the end of a long day, or “earning” that day of rest at the end of a week so filled with busy business.  This day of “rest” is often filled with yet more busyness.  The Lord’s first lesson to mankind was simply to “rest first and then your work will be fruitful.”   Rest – to settle down, to cease, to abide.   The way was made for the Israelites in the wilderness, yet they grieved the Lord and were not allowed to enter into His Rest (Heb. 3-4).  “Yet there remains a rest to the people of God.”  Not found solely in a day, or an hour, but in the abiding place within, with Jesus alone.     Oh the plea, “Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)  Yet “Let us labor (strive) to enter into his rest...” (Heb. 4:11a)  A contradiction?  No, rather a prelude, a step to inner stillness, capturing and casting down the random thoughts of the seemingly endless draw of responsibility, distractions, questions, fears.  The labor is to initially enter into His rest by silencing the “voices” within. Striving to “yield” to settle down, cease from “works”, and just abide in His presence.  “In returning and rest is our salvation, in quietness and confidence is our strength” (Is. 30:15).  In rest there is exchange of our voluntary weakness for His surpassing strength.  In that place we yield “our” work of struggle, and become a vessel through which His work simply flows.  “For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Heb. 4:10) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Eph. 2:10   The Israelites were forbidden to enter into that rest. They saw the giants, the fears of the task, their own lack of strength, and their towering unbelief (Heb. 3:19).  In the midst of exhorting us to rest, Hebrews 4:12 states “For the Word of God is …”  powerful, discerning, able to work in each area of the soul, and brings the spirit in view.  It is as we return, choose to yield to His abiding rest, abide in believing His Word, and receiving His Presence that we will fully arise to be vessels of the Glorious outpouring that He’s desired to display from His first day of creation.     Pastor Sharon Carlson