with Jeremy Westcott –
In seeking to build our spirit, we have seen how important it is to give God first love, first place, first priority in our lives, and also how praying and singing in tongues is a key. The third point, which we are going to consider in this post and the next one, is waiting on the Lord and being still.
Be still, and know that I am God (Psa 46:10).
What does it mean to be still? Firstly it means we do not move; that we stop whatever it is we are doing. And then we can know that He is God. If we are always ‘doing’, we are not allowing Him to be God in our life.
The NASB translates this phrase as ‘Cease striving’. God wants us to stop fighting (‘striving’ comes from the word ‘strife’), and surrender. We need to stop striving to do things in our own strength and submit to Him. We have to stop doing things in our way if God is to lead us in His way and into the destiny He has prepared for us.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul
He guides me in paths of righteousness
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest (Heb 4:9-11).
This requires diligence: we have to actively pursue God’s rest, His peace. For every one of us, there is a place of rest that He wants us to find and enter into. God rested on the seventh day of creation, and He intends rest for us. We do not get just one day in seven: we get every day, because our rest is in Him. In relationship with Him, we allow Him to work through us and our destiny can be fulfilled.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:1-2).
Those witnesses are the men in white linen who are appearing in various places around the world, the saints of old who have gone before us. They are cheering us on. In a 4x400m relay race, the first three runners do not pack up and go home once they have completed their lap: they stand and cheer and encourage the last runner. I believe God is saying that we are on the last leg, and all those people are watching us and cheering us on. I have met some of them, and they want to be involved in our lives and help us.
‘Let us lay aside every encumbrance’: if you are running a marathon, you do not wear a suit of armour, unless you are foolish (or running for charity – people wear all kinds of strange things when they run for charity). No, you get prepared, you wear a running vest and shorts, and proper shoes. Maybe you even cover your body with Vaseline so that you won’t rub. You do not carry anything with you that is not essential. We have to get rid of everything that will hold us back and keep us from running effectively. God wants to set us free from the things that are holding us back so that we can run the race. We do not want a ball and chain around our leg.
‘For the joy set before Him’: The joy set before us is that of achieving our destiny, just as it was for Jesus. Each of us has a destiny prepared for us to fulfil, and there is a race to be run if we are to get there. It might be 100m or it might be 26 miles: every race is different and will require something different of us, but we all have a race that God has prepared and set before us. Are we going to run it? Are we going to allow God to prepare us for it, to train us and to equip us?
And how are we going to run? Fixing our eyes on Jesus. We take our eyes of all that surrounds us, we take our eyes off ourselves, and we fix our attention on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He authored our faith by dying for us on the cross, to set us free, to release our destiny to us, and He will also enable us to complete the race if we keep our eyes fixed on Him. He did all that for the joy that was set before Him – and the joy that was set before Him was us.
When He embraced the cross; when in the garden He looked into a cup and saw all of our sin (yet still said ‘not my will but Yours be done’); when He took every sin, every sickness onto Himself, onto His own body on the cross; when He took the punishment that was due to us; He went through all that because He loves us. He did it because He wants us to enter into our destiny and fulfil the joy; He wants His joy to be in us, and He wants our joy to be full and overflowing.
And then, when He had done all that, He sat down at the right hand of God, higher than every authority in heaven and earth, and He wants to raise us up to sit with Him in those realms of authority too.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).
‘Nothing’ and ‘everything’ do not leave much room for argument. We do not need to be anxious about anything at all if we are handing control of our life over to God and trusting Him to meet our need, to provide for us. If we are willing to surrender and stop trying to do it ourselves, He will do everything we need in our lives.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Abiding in Him speaks of a relationship. We cannot produce fruit of any eternal value unless we are connected to the source through the Vine (Jesus). We may be a branch of that Vine, but the branch does not provide the nutriment and supply of life in itself. If you cut the branch off, it dies. The life is drawn up through the roots and the plant to produce the fruit. Fruit in our lives comes from the flow of being receptive to the life of God flowing through us. If we want to fulfil our destiny, the call of God on our lives, we need to abide in Him.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident… (1 Cor 3:12-13).
When fire comes, gold, silver and precious stones survive. Wood, hay and straw do not. If we do anything outside of God and our relationship with Him, it will be burnt up and be worthless in eternity. We trust Him, we live in Him, we allow Him to live in us, and we produce the fruit that is lined up with our destiny.
Our spirit needs to flow in the life of God. We need the living flow of the life of God in us and flowing out of us to transform the world around us. It is His spirit and His power which will bring about that transformation, but He has chosen to flow through us to achieve it.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38)
We will look some more at what it means to ‘be still’ in the next post.
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