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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whatever Happened to Rest?

By Rachel DiPaolo

God calls us to stand out from the world and be a testimony of his power, mercy and love. But if you look at our lives they are just as worn out, burdened and overwhelmed as the rest of the world. Whatever happened to a life of rest that we are called to live?

Hebrews 4:9-11 "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."

What is this rest we are to be diligently seeking and if not we are disobeying God? It is a rest that consumes every aspect of our lives from salvation to day to day living that is born out of trusting God.

The consummate rest is an end to striving for our righteousness and relying solely on the righteousness of God that comes by grace. Righteousness encompasses goodness, worthiness, holiness, and purity. This rest covers salvation, saved from spiritual death; and sanctification, becoming holy or Christ-like. It is living out the truth that there is nothing that we can do to earn or enhance our goodness. It is believing in our core that we have completely fulfilled every law, rule, and requirement for holiness because Jesus did on our behalf. It is knowing if we try to earn our worth in any way, then we forfeit Jesus' gift.

A common stumbling block we have all tripped on at one time or another is to come to God in grace, but revert back to trying to earn our worthiness in this life or for the next. It is a snare that steals abundant life, fights against the foundation of our faith, and displeases God. We come into the kingdom by humbling ourselves like a child, and our place or Christ-likeness in the kingdom is developed in the same way. A child's life, a picture of trust and rest, is our model to emulate.

Matthew 18:1-4 "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"

Christ Jesus saves and sanctifies. Most of us trust him with saving our souls but when it comes to sanctification we intervene. If the core motivation to give to the poor, tithe, go to church, say a prayer, join a Bible study, work for a ministry, or help the homeless is to earn a high ranking in His kingdom or make ourselves more worthy, then we are not resting. Resting means we trust God to sanctify us alone. A test to see if you are abiding in his rest is to stop doing those activities for awhile and see what you feel in your soul. If you feel guilt, then you are trusting in the wrong thing and not resting in Him.

This drive to earn and prove our worthiness fosters a lack of rest that carries over into our daily lives. For years, I lived outside his rest. Trying to establish and prove my value and worth, I gave into the rat race in the church, business, and my personal life and led an ineffective, burdened and powerless existence. The busybody mentality destroyed my inner spirit.

Frustrated, several years ago I got out of the race of works and followed my Lord's command "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) Faithful to his words, my life started to take on balance, purpose, and effectiveness for the first time. When I gave him my time, he made mine prosperous, meaningful, and restful.

The life God is calling us to is one that Christ portrayed. He only had three years of ministry and despite the pressing need of the masses around him; he sent them away and dwelt in solitude with God (Matthew 14:23). Christ wasn't frazzled running to and fro. He lived in a balance of spending time with God and with others. His relationship to God equipped him for the work God gave him to do. His priorities were in line, first God, then others.

We have become so consumed with serving God or being a good person that we have forgotten the ubiquitous call to be one with him; a purpose that requires time alone with him, dwelling in the truth, and intimate conversations (John 17:21). When we forfeit our main purpose, our lives become a weak evangelistic testimony because we are detached from the vine. With starved spirits, we are tired, overwhelmed, and depleted with little left to give. We can't fool others. They feel our lack and our lives become a contradictory witness to the abundant life that Christ came to give. If we don't heed the main call, all the others suffer.

1 Peter 4:11 "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."

God's ways are not our ways. He tells us to live a life different from the world's philosophies and ideals for one main reason to give him glory. What glory do our lives give when we operate like the lost and depraved world around us? One way we are to separate ourselves is by the rest we experience, in our salvation, sanctification and lives. Unlike the world, we have a mighty God who prospers, delivers, saves, helps, redeems, provides, carries our burdens, and gives us rest.

Friends, God is offering us a tremendous gift, him. We don't work alone like the rest of the world. They have to shift into overdrive because that is all they have. We don't. We have God. Let's not get sucked into their lack. He wants us to have a life of rest so we can spend time with him and glorify him. When we trust him and abide in rest, he will provide all our needs. When we give God the glory and strength by trusting in his work through us and not ourselves we live a life honoring to him.

Let's take a stand in our personal lives against this busybody mentality that is destroying our inner spirits. Following Christ's example, let's carve out time to be alone with God. Let's slow down and let his power be shown through us. Let's not try to be the mighty ones, but be arrows pointing to his mighty works. We are called to live a new life in his kingdom; a life that honors his power not man's. Will you join me?

Rachel DiPaolo


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