“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”
We live in a fast paced society with little time to rest and relax, where there are many demands placed upon us that are often overwhelming. There never seems to be enough hours in a day or enough days in the week to accomplish all that we must accomplish, let alone space on our calendars. We have resorted to working for the weekend, waiting with great anticipation for that moment when we can stop and get a little rest. Yet even here our weekends are scheduled with lists that must be accomplished, so even the little time off that we have is consumed by our many responsibilities. Before we know it, Monday has come again and we start the same process over in a never ending cycle called the rat race! I have to question “is this really the life that God intended for His children?” Somehow I don’t believe that this is what God had in mind when He created the first man and woman. I think God intended for us to enjoy life and not just endure it, to thrive and not just survive. Life was meant to be a wonderful, an eternal existence walking with the Lord in the cool of the evening. Our work in His garden was intended to bring satisfaction as we toiled in things that had real significance. Yet through the fall we went from the blissful and blessed life to the miserable and more life. Today we need more than just physical rest we need a spiritual one. Hebrews 4:9-11reminds us that “there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.” When you look around it becomes obvious that God’s people are not always resting in The Lord. It seems that there are many who are always laboring in an attempt to prove their own self-worthiness to be called a Child of God. Hebrews 1:3 says that “when he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” We need to be reminded that Jesus completed His work of Redemption and Salvation and entered into a place of rest. Because Jesus has completed the work of our salvation, we too can enter into that rest following Him. Hebrews 8:1 puts it this way: “Here is the main point we have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven.” Why are so many today missing the main point, why do we feel that we must try so hard to be a Christian? The ironic thing is that trying to do something to be a Christian does not give me or anyone any indication that we are “at rest” in Jesus. The problem is that we are still “trying” to do something that we can’t finish. We are back on the crazy cycle that never ends only this time we have traded races and now we are running the religious rat race. So I what to ask you a few personal, probing questions that I hope you will take time to reflect on:
When will you ever be good enough?
At what point in your life will you feel that you have done enough to be called holy?
How many prayers must you pray and for how many hours?
How many sacrifices must you make before you will feel that you have paid enough?
How many things must be removed from your life before you will consider yourself perfect in the sight of God?
The truth is this kind of perfection cannot be purchased or earned through self-sacrifice. When we realize that Jesus has done it all and that there is nothing we can do to earn anymore than what Jesus has already given us then we will start to learn to “rest” in His salvation. No one can remove the responsibilities of your job, home and family or remove the amount of work and effort that must be done in order to provide for these things. We all have toil in this life for we are living under the effects of sin yet even with the worlds demands there is hope. There is rest found in the results of the resurrection, Jesus not only bore our sin but He promised never to give us more than we can bear. We can run to our Heavenly Father in our moments of frustration and feelings of depression and He will hear our cry and make a way where there is no way. Jesus’ presence in our lives brings both peace and power. We can rest because He has got this. When we proclaim that Jesus has done it all it means there is nothing left over for us to do but rest in His power and provision. We sing that Jesus paid it but strive like we are, so instead of resting we are rushing. If you are saved then sin does not need to have power over you and you can live a sanctified life. Sure sin abounds and it is easy to become a victim of our own desires, to be drawn away, but we have an advocate with the Father and we can be forgiven. Repentance leads to rest, turning from sin and back to the Savior always brings sweet rest. Yet for many there is no resting in Jesus, we are constantly attempting to do the work, wearing ourselves out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually because we can never find the place of rest. Its not about your results its about the Redeemer, it’s time to stop running and start resting. Jeremiah 50:6-7 says “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture, the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.” Today many Christians are living as though they were lost sheep. They are sheep, part of God’s family, but they don’t know that they are safe in the arms of the Great Shepherd and they are constantly looking for a place to rest but never finding one. Why is it that so many never learn to rest in the salvation that Jesus has given to us? Why are we always under condemnation and never feel that we are good enough? Is this the product of our modern day ministry, where people feel pressurized to perform? Yes there is work that needs to be done in my life for me to be more like Jesus, but that “work” is not what saves me or condemns me. The truth is that if we really want to reflect our Redeemer more then we need to start resting in the Savior not striving. There can be no rest for those sheep who are always working in an attempt to earn the love of their shepherd. The shepherd has already shown us His unconditional love through His sacrifice on the cross. Just as the shepherd provides a place of safety and rest inside the sheepfold, Jesus has provided a place of safety and rest for his people. Our rest is secured, God isn’t going to kick us out of the fold every time we make a mistake or do something wrong. Our Great Shepherd loves us, we are bought with His own blood and that was no cheap price for Him to pay. Yet how quickly we forget that Jesus paid it all and that there is nothing we can pay to make our salvation any surer or to make the Lord love us more. “Whoever found them devoured them” Those who have run from God are fair game and instead of rest they experience ruin. Satan will do everything he can to try and stop God’s lost sheep from ever find their way back home into His rest. He brings accusations of unfaithfulness, telling us how unfit we are to be called a Christian, and in so doing, justifying why we should never come back to God. Don’t allow the Devil to lie to you and convince you that you can never be “good enough” Mistakes or not, we are still God’s people and God desires for us to come back and rest in His place of safety. If you have lost that place of rest then come back to the Redeemer, today its time to get back to the resting place.