Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. John Lubbock
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal….For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Cor. 4;18-5:1
As you lay your head down to sleep what eternal things are you going to fix your thoughts on?
Anyone who knows me knows I do not spend a whole lot of time resting. Driven is a word used by parishoners from time to time.
Sometimes I think I am too busy but mostly I just consider myself as an aggressive pursuer of the harvest.
I also think that most of the things I am doing are in line with what God desires of me.
That said, I was asked by my District Pastor to read a book recently. The title of that book is, The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan. It has me thinking a lot about a Sabbath mentality and how that may be lacking in my life.
Here is one of the first thoughts I meditated on as I began to read.
“Without a healthy theology of labor, we’ll have an impoverished theology of rest. We’ll find that both are hectic, sporadic chaotic. We’ll find no joy in either.” Buchanan p.18
Let me ask you…How does a person’s mindset about work affect their mindset about rest?
It’s the sound of water
Lapping at the dock
As my daughter dangles
Her feet in the midnight blue
Of a summer lake.
It’s a walk around the block
With my little dogs
And a grey rock
Steeple reaching for the blue heavens
On an autumn day.
As the moon sings
Her cyclic songs
Over all the world
I forget if only for now
That the world is loud.
It’s the swish of shovels.
Snow piled high,
Plows hold the world hostage.
And I am in
A season of rest.
Our discussion continues regarding the fall of man and the nature of original sin. Today we are talking about the loss of rest. If you missed our previous three discussions and want to answer the questions posed in them you can find them
HERE for part 1
HERE for part 2
HERE for part 3
Now on to today’s discussion…
It is true, as we have said, in the fall from grace we lost assurance; We lost our authority; But we also lost our REST-
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Ge. 3:16-19
I just talked with a friend who came back from vacationing. She was highly stressed and chose to take a spiritual healing retreat at a Christian conference center. She spent a week resting and praying and rejuvenating and then came back to work. Three days later all her stress levels are back. How many of you have been there? That is the power of the fall. God intended that our work itself would refresh us. Before the fall work was a vacation and now even our vacations most times feel like work. We have lost our rest. It is an inside problem. It is the way we look at work not the work itself. It is what work tells us about ourselves and the world not the work itself.
How many of you have said this, “I love what I do I just hate the stuff that goes on around what I do? Or I love what I do I just wish I felt like it was making a difference?” That is the power of the fall.
Here’s a question for you. Hebrews 4:6- 11 says,
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. 7So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts.”e
8Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. 9So there is a special restf still waiting for the people of God. 10For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
What does this teach us about the possibility of having our rest restored?
Anybody who has been reading Lillie-Put for any length of time knows I have just come through one of the busiest autumns I have ever clocked. Now I am in a season of rest and recuperation.
God has been speaking to me about several things I am to pursue during this season. One of the items on that list is a deeper level of faith. I spoke about this a bit in my series, “Laboring to Rest.”
As I was meditating this morning, God spoke to me about another item to be added to that list, listening.
One of the issues I am dealing with coming off of the fall harvest is a feeling of both physical and mental exhaustion. My brain feels like it has been sand-blasted and as if all the ideas in it have been turned to dust.
Of course, I realize that is just a feeling and a misconception mixed together. The truth is the ideas are still there because they were not inspired by me in the first place. Any of my really good ideas started out as God’s ideas and since He never grows weary, His ideas can’t be blasted away by my busyness. What has changed is not His ability to create through me but my ability to connect to Him so the creativity can flow. Restoring the creative connection is going to require intentional active listening.
I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
So now I am dedicating a large chunk of my prayer time to reading the Word and just sitting quietly before God and practicing the art of what the Quakers called centering down.
How do you practice the discipline of listening to God?
We have been discussing the paradoxes of Scripture in church these last several weeks. Yesterday I got to speak on the paradox of “laboring to rest” which we find in Hebrews 4:11. This post is the conclusion of the matter. So f you missed the first two section s they can be found at the links below:
What we have learned to this point is that the work…the labor we are called to do as Christians is the work of having faith in a living loving God. We are called to do that in a world that is constantly trying to steal our faith and get us to believe only in our own strength.
The writer to the Hebrews in the verses leading up to our opening verse in Hebrews 4: 11 makes this clear when he writes,
“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. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,” Hebrews 4:1-3
Our work our labor is to believe and have faith in God and to allow that faith to propel us through life rather than our own strength.
Some people scoff at this way of living saying it makes God a crutch. They would say that God helps those who help themselves. But the truth is that we are a people who need a crutch.The world, and even our own inner monologues often tells us that we have to save ourselves, that we cannot rely on God so we have to trust in ourselves, our own strength. The problem is that every time we follow this line of advice we end up in trouble. Some people have gone so far as to make even going to Heaven a work that man can accomplish in his own strength. Others following that advice of working their way to Heaven have worked their way right out of trusting Christ and into Hell. I had one man tell me that if in fact he could not get to Heaven on his own merits he was not going to rely upon someone else’s sacrifice to get him into the pearly gates. That man died and for all his labor he ended up with an eternity of torment.
When the Bible tells us to labor to enter into rest it is not talking about a list of do’s and don’ts but about laboring to build faith in the work of Christ in our lives and this is indeed a labor for the whole world is set against it:
The world tells us to work to get ahead. Christ says trust me and obey me and I will give you the life I intend for you to have.
The world says work hard and pay your own way. The Lord says trust me, pray and do the things I tell you to do and I will supply all your needs.
The world says do good works and God might be impressed enough to let you into Heaven. Jesus says come unto me and trust my work on the cross to save you and then you can rest from your labors.
In the end we have a choice about how to labor. Laboring in our own strength leads us to exhaustion and ultimately failure. Laboring to trust God and His way for our lives leads to rest and peace and ultimately success. It seems like a no-brainer to me but which will you choose?
This post is part two in our sermon from Sunday 11-30-14. If you missed part 1 you can find it here:
Our leading Scripture is found in Hebrews 4:11
“ Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest lest any man lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
So what does laboring to rest mean?
Does it mean that if we work hard eventually we will get to rest in Heaven as a reward for our labors?
Some say that Christianity is a religion of “do’s” and “don’ts”, that if we are ever to make it to Heaven we have to work very hard for it.
They might say something like,”Be good.Be saintly and God might just find you good enough to let you enter Heaven.”
Many people labor under the false idea that God is up in Heaven with a calculator right now tabulating good works versus bad works. When asked if they expect to go to Heaven their answer is that they hope that they are basically good people and that God will find their good works to outweigh their bad works and so He will let them into Heaven; But this is not biblical and it is certainly not what Jesus or the writer to the Hebrews meant when they suggested that we labor to enter into rest.
Paul the apostle Paul questioned
“What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage?”
And he was right when he concluded
” Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” Romans 3: 9-12
Later he wrote:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:8-10
The work and the labor spoken of do not speak of our own works or of Heaven.
Good works can never earn us entrance into Heaven. Our works will never be good enough to earn us a place in Heaven. Our place in Heaven is only guaranteed by our faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus , himself,said “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
So we see that what God requires of us in order to get into Heaven is not a list of good works but a daily living faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 10 that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
And again in the book of Ephesians chapter 2 He tells us it is by grace you are saved through faith.
Have you realized what we are to labor at yet? Tune in tomorrow!
Today in our church we continued our study through the paradoxes of Scripture. As our Lead Pastor, Barry Risto, has shared many times over the past few weeks:
a paradox is simply- Something that is made up of two opposite things that seems impossible but that is actually true or possible.
Here are some examples of paradoxes.
“You are never too old to become younger!”
― Mae West
“The Universe is very, very big.
It also loves a paradox. For example, it has some extremely strict rules.
Rule number one: Nothing lasts forever.
Not you or your family or your house or your planet or the sun. It is an absolute rule. Therefore when someone says that their love will never die, it means that their love is not real, for everything that is real dies.
Rule number two: Everything lasts forever.” Craig Ferguson
Today’s Scriptural paradox says, “If we are ever to find rest then we must labor for it.”
This is found in Scripture verses like Hebrews 4:11
“ Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
And Ma 11:28-30
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
So how do we find ourselves laboring to rest? How is it possible to work hard and rest at the same time? How can we labor to enter rest? How can we take on a yoke (a burden a chore) and find rest?
Let’s start by talking about some of the myths about Christian labor and rest. Let’s talk about what it does not mean.
- Laboring to rest does not mean that Christians never get weary. Some people say if you labor for God perfectly and in the things that God wants you to really do, then you will never get tired. Some say that any sign of weariness means you are not listening to what God is really telling you to do because if you were you would have enough energy.
- and not be tired.
But even Paul the apostle said he had served the church…
“In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Cor. 11:27
We will get weary.
Isaiah 40 says, “Even princes get weary… but they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Weariness is to be considered a normal part of this life.
- Neither does laboring to rest mean we should never rest. Some people say that the Christian life is all about exhausting every bit of energy you have and never resting. I have heard Christians say “I’ll rest when I’m dead. There are souls to save.”
But we are not the savior and the same Lord that told us to go out into the harvest field said “The Sabbath the day of rest was made for man.”
What are some myths you have discovered about labor and rest in the Christian life?