Every command of Jesus contains two vital elements - - the opportunity for faith and the power to obey.
When we are very tired and think of rest we often think of sleep and that means bed-time. Do we have to do anything? Of course, we have to get ready for bed and climb into bed before we can enter into rest.
Now let’s go back to creation (Genesis 2:2) when God rested on the seventh day. We’ve all heard it said many times that God didn’t rest because He was tired but because He was finished. Do you see the huge significance for us? Do I have to do something in order to rest in the finished work of God’s creation? Yes – I can rest in the assurance that God has set up and completed specific natural laws such as sowing and reaping. If I’m a person who wants a flower garden or a farmer who wants a bountiful harvest – we cannot enter into the rest of God’s finished work - - unless we plant, tend, cultivate and reap.
Now we’ll have breakfast – it’s something new (Exodus 16:15-16) it’s called manna. The Israelites could rest in the assurance of God’s provision but the manna didn’t fly off the ground and into their mouths while they were lying in bed. They had to get up, go outside and gather it before they could enter into the rest of God’s provision.
We are told (Hebrews 4:1-11) that we have the promise of God’s REST and we need to fear that we fail to enter into it. These verses plainly warn of the great hindrance – UNBELIEF. Salvation, sanctification and holy living were all provided for us by the atonement of our Lord Jesus. There are so many verses, but I want to point to a few which give us a passport to enter into GOD’S REST in the various situations in our lives.
Let’s start with salvation - - can we do anything to achieve or deserve it? Definitely not. But don’t we have to do something before personal salvation can be ours? If you had a certified cheque for a huge amount of money you can never enter into the good of that provision – UNLESS – you cash the cheque. Otherwise it’s a useless piece of paper. We can know about God’s provision (John 3:16) but it can remain just history. We must (John 1:12) receive (John 3:36) believe and (Ephesians 2:8) put our faith in Him. Then we can enter into the REST of assurance of salvation. What about peace of mind in this wicked turbulent world? Look at the desired destination and consider the passport in this and every situation.
Peace of God guard heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-7) make requests with thanksgiving. Perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee.
Financial needs – how can we rest when – out go exceeds income – (Matthew 6:33) seek FIRST the Kingdom, (Malachi 3:10) bring ALL the tithes. Then we enter into the REST of His unfailing provision.
How about circumstances which often – seem haphazard (Romans 8:28) God makes ALL things work TOGETHER for the good of His purpose to make those who love Him, like Jesus.
Why this way? (Exodus 13:17) God directed Moses to lead in this wrong direction instead of a direct route to Canaan in order to protect them from the Philistines whom they didn’t even know existed. What seems haphazard to us could be God’s protection from unknown dangerous Philistines. As we trust the Lord in every circumstance, we enter into the REST of His unfailing protection and guidance.
Discontent with how God has wired us –
If God has made you (Psalms 84:10) a doorkeeper – don’t try to be (3 John 1:9) a band master.
If God made you (Acts 9:36-40) a Dorcas to work behind the scenes, don’t try to be (Acts 18:26) a Priscilla to instruct a great orator.
This takes us back again to God’s finished work of creation. We can REST in the truth that the Lord made each of us – unique – one-of- a- kind - - and very precious to Him.
Faith or Works? (James 2:26) something to understand.
Do you think it’s possible to compare these two people? –
Billy Graham probably reached more people than anyone in history and he was widely known and admired.
The queen of the dark chamber – Many years ago in Africa there was a frail woman who was totally blind. She could do nothing and go nowhere. How did she spend her time? Hours in prayer. People who visited her said there was a whole different atmosphere in her small dark room. After the Lord took her Home, the book was written – “The Queen of the Dark Chamber”.
From Billy Graham’s ministry we see many EVIDENT results. From her ministry we see none. Would we even dare to compare? Never forget – the Christian standard of success is NEVER results but ALWAYS obedience. Major Ian Thomas wisely said – if you blow a trumpet make sure it’s God’s. If it’s your own you won’t raise the dead, you’ll only disturb your neighbours.
What about our overall life when all we see around us is change – decay – uncertainty?
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal,
I’ll trust – obey- hear Him say to me,
Fear not! I will pilot thee.
There is no person, no circumstance whatever, not even Satan with all his attacks – can disturb the rest of God in my life. The only one who can disturb my rest is me by my own choice. The two weapons I can use to murder my peace and rest in God, are close allies – unbelief and disobedience. If I trust and obey nothing can disturb my God-given peace and rest.
How can I be sure of that?
I have a written guarantee from Almighty God. Jesus was not finished when He said (Matthew 11:28-29) Come to Me and I will give you rest. He went on to say - - Take my yoke and learn of Me and in so doing you will find REST for your souls. What does that actually mean for us?
To take the Yoke of Jesus upon me means that I deliberately place myself in total subjection to Him. He makes all my decisions and He calls all the shots. To learn of Him means I constantly seek closer fellowship and deeper intimacy with Him. Let (Philippians 2:1-8) the mind of Christ be in us. Let (Colossians 3:16) the Word of Christ dwell in us richly.
There is a reason why – trust and obey – faith and obedience - go together. There are many example proofs of this in Scriptures. If you care to join me, I’m going to the synagogue on a particular Sabbath because Jesus is there. Look (Luke 6:6-10) there is a man with a withered hand and Jesus is telling the man to come forward and stand in front of everybody. I don’t know if he’s embarrassed but he comes. Like me, all the people are shocked and curious. We can hardly believe our ears when we hear Jesus tell him to stretch out his hand. Impossible! If he could do that, he’d have done it long ago. If we listen and watch carefully, we’ll learn the secret. Every command of Jesus contains two vital elements - - the opportunity for faith and the power to obey. Putting my faith for everything in Jesus is my choice and the enabling to obey is by the power of the Holy Spirit. Trust and obey never fails because it’s all about Jesus.
What is that man doing now? He’s putting his two healthy hands together in prayer and praise.
Let us abandon ourselves to God (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37) with a burning heart of adoration, worship and gratitude. And then (Hebrews 4:3, 9-10) we do enter into rest, we cease from trying to live the Christian life in our own strength. As we trust and obey, we can REST in the assurance that the outliving of the victorious resurrection Life of the indwelling Lord Jesus will be accomplished in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ARE YOU RESTING?
Remind your faith by reading Exodus 14 that God does His greatest works in impossible situations.
One more heart-hugger - -
This promise was not just for Moses (Exodus 33:14) My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.