Finding Rest

7.10.2015 |

When we think of the word “rest,” many of us would jump to the same conclusion: a week-long vacation, a day off work, a night without the kids, or a morning of sleeping in.  We could probably even recall a few bible verses defined by rest.  We typically desire rest more than we get it, but why? This is partially because of our unwillingness to unplug from the world and plug in to Jesus; however, maybe it’s partly due to the stressors of this world that we allow to cloud our already anxious minds.  If you are anything like me, you can admit this is true.  More often than not, rest is a foreign concept to us because we fail to follow in Christ’s footsteps.  

Our relational God created the entire universe in six days, and on the seventh day he rested.  Did we miss this prominent detail in Genesis 2?  God rested.  If God thinks it’s imperative to find rest, so should we.  He gave you and I an example to follow in the stillness of his creation.  In God’s rest, he never stopped being God.  Likewise, in your rest, you don’t stop being a spouse, a friend, a parent, an employee, or a child of God.  

Living in a city where a university dictates a majority of our schedules, we feel the desire to get away from the day to day grind as summer approaches.  For a school teacher like myself, the countdown is on until a break away from students arrives.  Summer comes with all its splendor, but then I find myself anxious about what the next school year will hold.  I find myself harping on the fact that the number of days until I have to return to work is dwindling daily.  A number of unending questions flood my mind and leave me in anything but a state of solitude.  Can you relate?

Summer is now in full swing.  Summer is deemed a time of rest, but when I look around, summer seems to be busier than any other part of the year: send the kids to back-to-back camps, try to volunteer at a few events, plan a family vacation, attend weddings, move into a new house, visit family.  Life isn’t slowing down for any of us, but God’s example and command to rest has not and will never be retracted.   

So where do we find rest? If we could tap into each other’s conversations, a vacation is what we all plan to get away from the real world, but do we really need a vacation to rest?  Maybe.  There certainly are wonderful familial memories formed over a week at the beach which can leave us mentally and physically recharged for the weeks to come.  In fact, I like to travel when the opportunity presents itself; however, if vacation after vacation is all we have planned and we leave God out of our vacation, we might fail to see what we truly need to feel rested and rejuvenated: spiritual rest.

How we find spiritual rest:
  1. Surrender to Christ’s authority
  2. Seek Christ wholeheartedly
  3. Serve others

SURRENDER TO CHRIST’S AUTHORITY

Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us that we must enter into rest.  
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, forever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”  

The only way we can hope to enter into spiritual rest is first surrendering our lives to Christ.  Lack of rest can come from the perpetual bondage of sin.  
Romans 6:6-11 reminds us that without Christ, we are nothing but slaves to our sin nature.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  How if we have died with Christ, we believer that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."    

Christ willingly died on the cross and absorbed every single sin we have or ever will commit to demonstrate his love for us.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He took on our punishment for our disobedience to a holy God.  He physically rose from the dead conquering our sin and breaking ever chain of sin that could hinder our relationship with him.  John 3:16-18 reminds us of this truth. 
“For God so loved the world, the he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

For those who have surrendered their lives to the will of Christ, this is true.  This is the beginning of spiritual rest.  

SEEK CHRIST WHOLEHEARTEDLY

Breaks in our work schedule or away from the kids are (more often than not) gladly welcomed, but if we don’t use that opportunity to seek Christ in stillness, the Word, or prayer, we will miss out on opportunities to know Christ deeper.  Our days fill up before we have had our morning cup of coffee, and it seems like the day ends before we have the chance to take a breath.  Romans 3:10-11 reminds us of the reality that we often choose not to seek God. The last thing we might desire at the end of a chaotic day would be to sit down, read, and do more thinking, but to find rest, this is imperative.  
“No one is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”

The time we do have free should be used to seek the Lord in stillness, in his Word, and in prayer.  He will always show himself faithful.  If we do seek the Lord, Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us that we will find Him.  Finding Christ is what we have to be after because in Him only is there rest.
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  

This is an opportunity to wholeheartedly listen to what he would desire of you.  An opportunity to get away from the chaos around us and spend with the only One who can give us peace.  When we gladly approach God, we are able to recharge and refocus our minds on Christ.  We cannot be forced to seek Him.  We cannot be half-hearted and lukewarm about it.  We must jump all in to find rest in Christ.  

Psalm 63:1 depicts the kind of longing with which we need to seek Christ.  
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;my soul thirsts for you;my flesh faints for you,as in a dry and weary land where there in no water.”

When we have been beat down by the world around us and willingly seek Christ and His goodness, we are gifted with supreme rest in Christ as Hebrews 11: 6 states.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”

Without seeking Christ, rest will remain a foreign concept.


SERVE OTHERS

It is unnatural for us to want to give of ourselves when we feel as if all of our being has been depleted.  When we are in need of rejuvenation, serving others is probably the last thing we would desire.  However, if we miss out on serving those around us, we miss out on the divine rest given to us by Christ.  Mark 10:45 declares that Jesus’s life was dedicated to serving people in love.  We know Jesus to be full of rest and peace in God.  If Jesus set an example of serving others, we should follow in his holy footsteps.  
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As a Christ-follower, when we serve others, we serve Christ.  When we walk in a manner worthy of our calling, the darkness that causes a lack of rest in our hearts is expelled.  Isaiah 58:10 tells us that truth.
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

Colossians 3:23-24 also reminds us of that truth.  
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”

When we give of ourselves in service to others, God blesses our efforts.  We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 that Christ supplies every need of ours.  For most of us, what we desperately need is a lot more rest.  God is the only one who is able to provide lasting rest. 
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, no reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency  in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”  

Through volunteering for a mission trip or vacation bible school, serving in sunday school ministry or Christian Women’s Job Corp; or giving of yourself in hospitality or financially may seem burdensome and taxing, if you have ever experienced this, you know that there is nothing more rewarding or life-giving than serving as Christ serves.  How ever you are serving, serve well.

For the one who gives, satisfaction in Christ and rest are a result.

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Though summer is hectic and rest may have escaped us, we can always find rest in the presence of Christ.  Matthew 11:28-29 says, 
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
By surrendering our lives to Christ and giving ourselves over to his authority, we can experience the ultimate peace of Christ in our lives because we have relinquished control to an all-knowing, ever-loving, good God.  Seeking Christ in prayer and in his Word is another way that we get to experience rest.  God promises that we will find him when we seek him with all of our strength.  Serving others in love with the purpose of glorifying Christ brings an unexplainable rest into our lives.  Surrendering, seeking, and serving are not meant to be one-time experiences.  We can have an everlasting rest in Christ when we recognize that our lives are not our own, and when we use them to know more of God’s character and to emulate him.   


QUESTIONS TO SEE IF YOU'RE IN NEED OF REST:

  1. Have you surrendered your life to Christ?
  2. Do you have a daily quiet time in the Bible and in prayer? 
  3. Do you get excited about having a daily quiet time in the Bible and in prayer?
  4. Do you speak encouraging words more than you complain?
  5. Do you cheerfully support the Church financially?
  6. Have you served the Church in the past 3 months?
  7. Do you use your free time to invest in other people?
  8. Do you look forward to daily tasks at work more than the end of the day?
  9. Do you look forward to each day more than vacation?
  10. Have you recently taken a family vacation with the intent of finding solitude?



If you have answered ‘NO’ to any one of these questions, you may need to ask God to search your heart and find rest.  
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