Week 1 Abide and Rest
First Things First
You attempt to improve your outward appearance ahead of setting your heart right. You desire fruit before the seed is planted, but God looks at the inmost being. He judges by the state of the heart, not by how you appear to others.
ow do we set our hearts right? How do we bring our inmost beings to the foot of God’s throne, keeping nothing back? We all have buried heartaches: fears and sorrows so intense that it seems safer to keep them tucked out of sight rather than allowing them to surface.
This week we’ve chosen to fast from one or more of our usual methods of distraction from buried sorrows. Maybe grief has cut a path through your emotions as it emerged from its hiding place. Unforgiveness, repressed anger, or fears may have emerged. Perhaps you are eyeing the blank TV screen or that novel you were reading before you began this inconvenient plan and wish desperately for escape. The pain has surfaced; now what to do with it?
Right about now you may be thinking that giving up a familiar pleasure is hard work; after all, this first week was supposed to be about rest. And so it is! There is no sweeter peace than the rest that follows release of buried heartache to the Lord. Escapism blocks our ability even to acknowledge heartache, much less release it.
We can choose to walk according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit and enjoy freedom and peace through Him, or we can walk according to the dictates of the flesh. Flesh seeks release from pain through overeating and other addictions while our spirits are created to draw strength from the Lord, and we can't have it both ways. Continuing in sin so that grace may abound is a miserable way to live, saved but just barely, not partaking of the joy that is rightfully ours by our belief in Christ, choosing instead to live according to the rules of our physical bodies, which are bound over to death.
Why live as though we are dying when Jesus has promised new life? Why live in bondage when we can enjoy freedom? On our own, we can't move away from this sin of hiding our hearts from God, but we can will it to be so and pray for His deliverance. And since anything we ask according to His will is done for us, there is reason to feel optimistic!
Pray: Lord, I give You permission to touch my heart and release the dark emotions I’ve hidden there. I entrust these old injuries to You; and pray blessing and healing not only for my own heart, but for the loved ones whose suffering I could not prevent. I release my fears for the future to You, and I place my trust in You for myself and for those I love. Amen.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.