Unity - It Starts In Me

Hello and Welcome!

Today's post is at the request of my dear friend, Coleen, who asked me to write on the Lord’s Prayer. I say this prayer each Sunday and it’s one of the special times in the service where I join my voice with others who believe that God is our Father in heaven. Though I recite it, I’m not sure I’ve ever thoughtfully contemplated this Jesus-given prayer and how it’s actively manifesting in my life. I hope to encourage you to consider the Lord’s prayer as a call to unity on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord's PrayerWhen I pray God’s will be done, what am I asking for?

What is the Lord’s will?

…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation,

tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and

in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Unity.

Unity is what the apostle John saw in his vision and recorded in Revelation--difference brought together – one voice – worshiping the Lord. Can you imagine it? It’s the very reason Christ died so we could be one with the Father. Jesus gave this powerful prayer to the apostles who took to heart the message of unity and we see it manifested in their writings.

…be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble… – 1 Peter 3:8

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of

peace. There is one body and one Spirit… 

-- Ephesians 4:3 (written by Paul)

When I speak the Lord’s Prayer, either aloud or in my heart, I’m saying I want what the Father wants. I want the unity of heaven to be present on earth and I’m willing to make every effort to be in unity with God’s people. Perhaps you're wondering how I've come to see unity in the Lord's prayer. I discovered this view in the two verses following the Lord's prayer. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus is recorded as providing what seems like an explanation for one specific line of the prayer. 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you,

your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men their sins,

your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15)

Forgiveness-1767432_640Forgiveness--not just for me but expected from me.

I pray this prayer every Sunday asking God to forgive me of my sins. And believe me, I’m fully aware of how I’ve put myself first, judged that person’s action, complained about this and griped about that. Oh, how I want to be given that forgiveness! But when I utter the words as we have forgiven those who sin against us I sense the enthusiasm and emotion diminishing in my heart. I’m so intensely eager to get what I need, but am I willing to give away what I’ve been given?

Forgiveness is one of the stepping stones leading to unity. Jesus deliberately and intentionally focused the apostles’ attention to this element of the prayer. How could the apostles effectively share the hope of Christ if they could not birth a desire for unity in their heart especially toward those who would reject them, despise them, and slander them.

Unity is hard. I don’t get to control someone else’s heart and mind. I can’t make that other person want unity. But I get to work the soil of my heart so that it's rich with forgiveness so to grow a desire to be in unity with those around me. As we cannot be united with God without his forgiveness, in the same way we cannot truly live in unity without forgiveness toward each other.

Unity

In Donald S. Whitney’s book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, he believes the Lord’s prayer is followed by the verses on forgiveness because “…a forgiving spirit characterizes those who have been forgiven.” What if my heart and mind dwelt on this image: I, Terri, in the presence of the Father with the full realization of what Christ has done for me and given to me. Hope, love, peace, mercy, grace, eternity with Him. None of it possible without Christ’s sacrifice. Shouldn’t this realization provoke a profound desire within me to forgive anyone of their hurtful acts toward me? It should. The Lord’s prayer brings me back to an awareness that I must make forgiveness the priority over my pride and my hurt. Jesus places such a strong emphasis on forgiveness because of this fact: my lack of forgiveness tremendously affects my relationship with Him. If my relationship with Him is my focus, then I can choose forgiveness knowing my Lord will heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon my heart.

When I let the Lord’s Prayer dwell and root in my heart, I can generously offer forgiveness as is required of me. As I forgive others, the prayer becomes an action and I have fulfilled my promise to the Lord.

I'll close with this verse in Romans because I believe it echoes the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live

in harmony with each other, according to the command of Christ Jesus,

so you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

with a united mind and voice. –Romans 15:5 (HCSB)

As always, I welcome your comments or emails on how the Lord's prayer is manifested in your life.

Blessings to you,

Terri

 

References:  Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald S. Whitney, NavPress 2001.


Rest Moments - Part II

Hello and welcome to Rest Moments Part II.  This post will provide the action steps on how to incorporate those oh so important rest moments into your day. In Part I I shared the example of Jesus taking himself away from the people and distractions to enter a spiritual rest with the Father. Resting in the Lord provides restoration, creates equilibrium when you set yourself aside in stillness and with trust. There will always be a demand for your time and energy and you won't live well if you consistently ignore the deep need of your soul to connect with the Lord. 

Daily, God tenderly calls you into rest moments—sacred, precious moments of being in His presence. With every rest moment, you are investing in your soul health and your relationship with God  The benefit of resting in the Lord, is that your heart and soul will shine with joy, peace, kindness, gentleness and much more. 

Rest moments are…

…planned or spontaneous times when you seek out God to enjoy His so very near presence. Jeremiah 29:15 -- when you seek Him you will find Him.

… meant to refresh, restore, and fill you. Psalm 23 – He leads you beside quiet waters and restores your soul.

…a communion with God. Psalm 16 – The Lord counsels you, instructs you and is at your side.

Sky and still water“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his  shoulders.”  

--Deuteronomy 33:12

Deuteronomy 33:12 was a blessing given to the tribe of Benjamin. Read the above verse once more and let the words establish an image in your mind. Imagine how close God must be in proximity for His beloved to rest between His shoulders. This blessing wasn't only for the tribe of Benjamin. It's extended to you and me because the Lord continually proclaims His love for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. You are the beloved of the Lord and you are the one the Lord loves and shields. He is your security, your shield, and you are never alone. Believing His blessing promise can profoundly affect how you live day by day, hour to hour, moment to moment. As the world takes and empties you to the point even your reserves are critically diminished, it is your Heavenly Father that fills your heart and soul with the spiritual nourishment you need to thrive.

“I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. 

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold;

I will never be shaken.”  --Psalm 62:1-2

Quality Not Quantity

Quality rest generally requires some sort of withdrawal. The idea of finding time or a place to withdraw may seem incredibly difficult. Some of you are living complex and complicated lives. Everybody wants or needs a piece of you. The idea that God, too, wants a piece of you and your time may be just too much. For those reasons, I emphasize small steps or, just one step. God’s rest is not meant to be another thing on your to-do list. His rest will enable you to do that to-do list! Quality not quantity is the key. If you commit the time wholly to Him, then He will meet you there. It might be difficult at first to set yourself apart, but stick with it! Over time, you might find yourself adding an additional minute upon minute. 

A quality three minutes in a rest moment is more beneficial than 10 minutes where you fight mental distractions and feel guilty for not doing what you think you should be doing. Important point: Rest moments are exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Rest moments comprise a segment of time in your life where you enter into God presence with your authentic self, in humbleness, with receptivity, availability, and an awareness of His nearness and your need for Him. 

Following are some ideas on how to identify opportunities for rest moments, what to do in rest moments, and assessing the impact of incorporating these moments into your day and week.

Water drops

Assess the Ebb and Flow of your Routines

Every household has an ebb and flow with peak times of activity as well as low levels of noise and movement. Take an assessment of the rhythms of your household, work week, and weekends or days off. Pinpoint the segments of time in your day or week where rest moments could fit in. Your assessment is meant to identify the rhythm of your life that will allow rest moments to occur in small increments of time throughout a 24-hour period. Even a few minutes can be as refreshing as a more lengthy period of rest with God. Following are a few questions to assist you with your assessment.

  • Is there a time of day or night that you see a natural opening for designated rest moments?
  • What time of day do you feel would be the best for you to create rest moments if there are no natural opportunities?
  • What changes in your routine or the routine of your household could create an opportunity for rest moments?
  • Is there unnecessary clutter in your life—activities, relationships, responsibilities that don’t fit with how you want to live well and thrive? Sometimes we fail to recognize a need for change because unconsciously we are afraid of the void that will be left if we disengage from or discontinue activities, relationships, or responsibilities. If something does not contribute to your living well or to thriving, then a reassessment should be considered.
  • Are you a slave to the schedule of your life? Are there any commitments that need to be re-negotiated as it concerns the time commitment? Are there commitments that need to be ended? The quality of your commitment is more important than the quantitative factor associated with that commitment. In other words, what are you bringing to the commitment? Is it a a joyful desire to serve or are you fulfilling an obligation with a sub-par attitude?

Once you've reviewed the possibilities of injecting rest moments into your day and/or week, you can determine the  

Still Water 1

Unusual Opportunities for Rest Moments

As I mentioned earlier, the when and how and for how long becomes less important when your heart and mind are open, receptive, and still during those moments. Following are some examples of unique opportunities to be at rest (in a sense) in His presence.

  • Washing your hands – as you stand at the sink let the water run over your hands and slow your mind, call out to God.
  • As you wait for a meeting to start – surrender your attitude, your feelings to God.
  • As you walk to a meeting (separate yourself a bit from the crowd) – express gratitude to the Lord.
  • As you walk to and from your car to work.
  • In an elevator.
  • One minute, eyes closed, heart and hands open anywhere.
  • In the shower or bath – breathe in God, focus on Him (not your to do list).
  • Walking the dog – as you walk converse with God and when your pet stops to sniff, use the moment to be still in heart and mind. Breathe in God.
  • Before getting out of bed to start your day – thank God for He’ll show the way through it.
  • Before you crawl into bed – stand at the bedside close your eyes and draw near to God.
  • Linger in your car just before you go to enter your work environment.
  • If you take a lunch, find a spot that allows for you to be in quiet or solitude even if only for 5 minutes.

Assess the Outcome of Rest Moments

If you’ve made a commitment to enter into rest moments, then you want to assess the outcome or the result of having made that commitment. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel an increased sense of calm or peace?
  • Do you feel your mind is less tense, less judgmental, or less critical?
  • Do you see yourself being kinder, more patience?
  • Do you feel the rest moments have contributed to you living well, living better than you did before you engaged in the rest moments?
  • Reflect on how you’ve handled situations now as compared to before you engaged in rest moments.
  • Reflect on what benefits you have gained as a result of communing with God, coming into His presence throughout your day.
  • What have been the obstacles to entering into rest moments? How can these be resolved?

I pray you will experience the blessing promise in Deuteronomy 33:12 and discover and experience a deepening of your relationship with God because of your intentional choice to rest and connect with Him on a daily basis. 

If you are interested in reading Part I, its found in the August Archive or in the Spiritual Rest category! Be encouraged! As always your comments and feedback are important to me so please share. Blessings, Terri