Friday, October 19, 2018

Repentance and Rest

“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it” (Isaiah 30:15).

Here is one of the saddest thoughts in Scripture. Isaiah is addressing the Israelites about the presence, strength and forgiveness of God, but they wanted a military solution. They made bad choices and chose alliance with Egypt, which brought calamity. How are you doing with your choices?

This theme verse gives dramatic guidance to life. Yet it starts with the recognition that we have been going the wrong way and need to turnaround. We need to return to God. Repentance is turning around, it is confessing our wrong choices, or sin. I make wrong choices every day because of my selfishness and or stubbornness. It is often pride that causes my fall. I can do this my way I might say, or I am better than him/her, so I will ignore them or their suggestion. I don’t know if this sounds familiar to you or not. But read on anyway.

Rest in your salvation.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12, “work out your salvation with fear the trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good pleasure.”  This is not a contradiction; it is a broader explanation of our life in God. If we have repented and turned to God for our salvation or help then we will work according to His will and purposes. We are no longer on our own, unless we choose to be. This would be a bad choice.  Salvation is a gift for spiritual growth and development. As we grow in God, we also need to rest in Him. This means to be renewed, refreshed, and restored. We cannot respond to God’s grace and will while distracted like Martha in Luke 10:38-42. We need to rest in God like Mary chose to do and was rewarded for it. God is our strength and our refuge Psalm 46 reminds us. We need to go to Him in times of trouble and calm. The psalms are full of admonitions to seek and praise God and to not fear. God is in the praises and draws near to those who call upon Him. Those who fear or fret forget about His power and presence.

The second stanza of this couplet, “in quietness and trust in our strength” reinforces the first. We cannot find God if we are fussing and fretting. We find God in silence and solitude. Recall how Jesus went to the mountains to pray often. He went alone to find His Father and so should we. He trusted completely in God the Father, even though He was and is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). That’s where His strength for the journey came from. That’s where our strength lies also.

I am always amazed and comforted when I read of how the Apostle Paul prayed to God for his thorn or burden to be removed. But God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He said, when we are weak God is strong in us. This is a paradox of Christianity. It is the better solution to remove Paul’s thorn and our trouble. Paul prayed three times, and Jesus prayed three times for His cup to be removed. It is a human thing to want our burdens, troubles, fears, and diseases removed now! But God is faithful and if we trust in Him He will work for our good and His glory. God said to hang on, obey, and trust. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Go first and always and continually to God for solutions and wait on Him. Don’t give in to your own solutions, but trust in God. Also rest in Him and wait on Him. He is your strength as you rest in Him.

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