April 11, 2013

Hebrews 4:1-5
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith, 3Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.


What does it mean to rest? When we are truly resting are we still worrying and laboring with our mind and body? Resting is entering into another state of being than when our body and mind are active and working. Resting is a state in which the mind and body are being turned off and labor has ceased. Many of us have experienced insomnia where we tried to rest, but we can’t get our minds to shut off and sleep eludes us. Instead of rest we find restlessness and are wrestling to find sleep.
When God talks to us about entering into His rest what is He telling us we should do? Are we to just sit down where we are and expect God to do everything and provide everything for us? Is that rest? No, God is talking about a state where we turn off the natural mind that is filled with its desires, concerns and worries. He is talking about a state of obedience and trust in Him where we see the finished work of Christ and the Cross. We rest in all that it represents to us and all that has been and is being accomplished through it. Most of us are pretty aware that we can’t earn our way into heaven through our own goodness and righteousness, but in many ways we haven’t learned the place of rest that is in Christ Jesus. As long as the natural mind is always actively seeing and reacting to the circumstances around it, it remains in a state of insomnia and restlessness, never able to fully find its peace. In order for the message of the rest of God to have any value and substance to us it has to be combined with one key ingredient and that is faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” God never created us to be gods unto ourselves; He created us in His image to be the expression of who He is, of His nature and his character. He created us to abide in harmony and fellowship with Him. We can never find that place without faith. If we truly have faith then it will result in obedience out of love. The more we intimately know God, the more we will grow in trust, obedience and love. The more we intimately know God in and through Christ Jesus the more identified we will become with His life and the finished work of the cross.
The reality check is this; we live in a natural world, filled with many godless people and we have to function in an economy that is not spiritual and filled with greed and selfishness. That must mean I have to really struggle to be godly and fight the devil. I need to condemn sin and every sinner I see so that I am not like the world. Isn’t that how many of us see our calling and our faith? It is a war, it is a struggle and I have to try harder to do better and to fight sin?
Have you ever seen a person trying to swim in water when they didn’t know how to swim? There is no lack of activity. They violently thrash and kick just to keep their heads above the water and not drown, but that isn’t swimming, that is just trying to survive. When we learned how to swim we had to learn to work with the water and not against it. We had to lose our fear and learn that if we would trust the water we could actually float without a struggle. Learning to swim is an exercise in learning to trust. The rest of God is the same way. We can’t rest with all of our thrashing and work to overcome sin and live righteous. What God is teaching us is that rest is a matter of trust. Christ has overcome, He has paid the price for sin and He has conquered sin and death. Why are we trying to accomplish what He has accomplished for us from the beginning? Our rest is learning to rest in and appropriate what Christ has already done by full association and reliance upon Him. It doesn’t mean we cease living and functioning in this world; it means that now we function in identification and trust in His life. We no longer live out of our goodness or our ability, but His. “Christ in me” is my hope of glory; my flesh can never accomplish that for me, no matter how hard it tries. The rest is the trust to let Christ be in me, to have expression and to have full dominion over me.
Rest, like swimming, is something that we practice. We learn not to fight God in our ignorance, but rather work with Him, as one with Him. Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
As we begin our rest in God, yielding and trusting the Holy Spirit. As we read and meditate upon God’s word to intimately know the One we are to be like; then that Word, quickened by God’s spirit, will begin its spiritual surgery within us exposing what is of Him and what is of the flesh. He exposes our true motives and intents. He will show us that a lot of what is religious and looks outwardly good is just spiritualized flesh, but it is not Spirit. Rather than us thrashing the water and trying to change ourselves from the outside in, in the rest of God we will find Him changing us from the inside out. He will sanctify us, spirit, soul and body. The transformation that takes place in us through the rest of God is one in which we cease to struggle and strive with Him and we simply, through faith and trust, come into compliance with what He is revealing to us. It is a process of shutting our eyes to the circumstances and the fears, concerns and the sin that surrounds us. Instead we are opening our consciousness to the Spirit and the Word as together they guide and support our rest. In the process we sometimes inhale a little water and we start to spit and sputter. We immediately want to forget our position of rest and go back to trashing and struggling, but we begin to learn that it is only counter productive to our rest, so we have to let down and again rest our head upon the breast of Jesus.


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