"Thus says the Lord: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'" (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV)
Rest comes by saying, "Yes!" to God. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) When people seek something, they are looking to acquire or gain. You might even say that they are searching for something
God tells Israel, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is." God was attempting to get Israel to remember God's covenant with her at Sinai. When she walked in the terms of the covenant, she rested under God's care and watchful eye. Obedience to the Word of God was critical to Israel's rest.
It is no different in our day. We must be a people who remember the covenant with God through His Son, Jesus. Remember the crossroad you once came to and had to decide if you would make Jesus the Lord of your life? You found the ancient paths God prepared before the world's foundations. It is the good way! The Way of Life! You walked in that way, and you found freedom. You found rest for your soul!
Seeking God results in finding His word, and His word ushers us into His rest. May you find the ancient paths, the good ways, and rest!
"So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief." (Hebrews 3:19, ESV)
There is so much blessing associated with God! He is a good, good Father! He has such great plans for our lives. He loves us unconditionally, and His mercy endures forever. He always has our future in mind, and we can trust him. Faith is such a powerful force concerning rest! The man who walks in faith lives in peace and experiences rest at a heart level.
Jesus is a perfect picture of a man who walks in faith, trusts the Father, and rests in everything. He certainly did not have any angst or worries while in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in a violent storm. He slept! That is rest at its greatest.
The children of Israel could not enter the promised land because of their unbelief. Paul, in Hebrews, tells us that they could not enter the rest of God because of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:11) Unbelief is a thief of rest! Take a look at your life and identify areas lacking rest. Could it be that you are not trusting God's promises in that area of your life, or maybe you do not know God's Word, so you worry or are in fear and are trying to handle things on your own? If that is the case, you are not entering the rest of God. Remember, unbelief is a thief of rest. But faith will let you enter into God's rest!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles." And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.’ (2 Chron 32:7-8 ESV)
Most of the time, it will be the hardest to rest when the battle around you is in full swing. Things are not always as they appear to be, especially from God's perspective! A ruthless king surrounded Hezekiah. And his sadistic army was with him like a horde from hell. It looks impossible in the natural world, but Hezekiah chose to enter the rest of God and take Him at His word. God could see something Hezekiah could not see. God gave Hezekiah the wisdom on how to face his enemies. When you have the wisdom of God, strength and courage are not far behind, for you know that God is for you, not against you.
Look at what Hezekiah sees. He sees that the arm of the flesh is with King Sennacherib, but the strong arm of the Lord is with Judah! You rest in the face of your problems when you see God as He is. How many of you would sit with God for a day to have that kind of revelation of who He is? Those who enter His rest, rest in the storms of life. They have confidence!
"The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord." (Acts 13:44, ESV)
A word study in the Book of Acts on the word 'Sabbath' reveals this unique fact. Almost every use of the word in Acts is in reference to Paul going to the corporate gathering of the synagogue. On this day of rest, Paul took advantage of a command of God and a custom of the people to preach the Gospel to them.
In these scriptures, where Paul is ministering on the Sabbath, great things happened. I am reminded of Peter seeing the crowds gathering in response to the lame man walking. "Seeing the crowds..." he took advantage of the situation to preach the Gospel.
Many believers are consumer-minded when it comes to the Sabbath. They participate to 'get'. They do not come prepared to give. What would happen if you shifted your thinking and came prepared to give away the grace of God at corporate gatherings of the people? What would happen at a Sunday gathering if you healed someone in the parking lot? What if someone's life was changed because you had what you thought was a simple 'word of knowledge?'
Paul showed up prepared, filled with the Spirit of God, at these gatherings where he knew people would be. He stepped out and preached in faith, worked miracles, and healed people. The church grew in numbers, the Kingdom of God grew in influence, and cities were changed. What would you have to change to be more influential for the Kingdom on Sundays?
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9 ESV)
How do we enter the rest of God?
"Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.’ John 15:5
When resting in Christ, I must realize that God is working! If I bear fruit simply by abiding in Him, He must be at work while I am resting (trusting in Him). To enter into His rest, we must pull away from our labor and efforts. When we step away from our labor, we rest, knowing that God is still at work. What is the work that God is doing? It is threefold. He is working in me so that I might know Him. He is working on me so that I might be more like Him. He is working for me on behalf of my marriage, family, job, ministry, etc. He is working in me, on me and for me.
The Sabbath rest was made so that man might be amazed at the wonder of God and the wisdom of His ways. The Sabbath was made for men. It was man's escape from death, hell, and the grave. The Sabbath was man's place of healing, deliverance, and victory.
You and I must respond to the invitation from God to enter the Sabbath rest. Jesus says, "Come you who are weary, and I will give you rest. I will cause you to cease laboring. Your soul will be quiet, and you shall be strengthened." When we rest in Him, He works in us, on us, and for us.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt 11:28)
The word 'rest' means to cause to rest, to cause to cease from labor. If your mind keeps working when you stop, you are not at rest. If your spouse or friend says, "Are you okay? You seem like you are in another world." You are not resting. That is called stress, and stress is a silent killer. It is killing you, your relationships, and your relationship with God.
Your only cure is to abide in Christ. Jesus is our Sabbath Rest, and we must learn to abide in Him. Abide means to stay put, persevere, remain, and be steadfast. Whoever abides bears fruit! This sounds like God blessing the seventh day. To bless means to be successful, prosper, have a long life, and be fruitful. Whoever abides bears fruit! If I am abiding well, I will rest while working, parenting, leading, being married, and carrying out life responsibilities.
Paul and Silas did this well. While in a Philippian jail, their backs were bleeding and they were in chains. Paul, resting amid pain, said, "Let's sing!" As they sang, the earth shook, the prison doors opened, and the jailer and his family were all born again. It sounds like a blessed event! Paul was resting in Jesus—his Sabbath rest. Paul had ceased his labor and was enjoying God. Is Jesus your Sabbath rest? Are you abiding in Him?
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27-28
When they hear about Sabbath rest, many believers think only in terms of physical rest. For them, rest is escaping that which makes them weary. Their thoughts focus on taking a vacation, not having to work, leaving their marriage, or simply having no responsibilities in life.
Others, who do not understand Sabbath rest, have never considered that rest could possibly help issues such as rejection, fear (of loss, of life, etc.), soul wounds (miscarriages, abuse, trauma, etc.), shame, denial, and PTSD. All these are soul issues not directly associated with rest but are issues the Holy Spirit can heal. They are entanglements of the soul, and they wear people out.
The number one instinct when facing these entanglements of the soul is to run. But where will you run? And when you get there, do you realize you will still have ‘you’ to live with? And if you self-medicate, when the 'meds' wear off, you will still be entangled. If you are going to run, run to Jesus! Jesus is the Sabbath rest! Isaiah 61:1 states that Jesus is anointed and sent to heal the brokenhearted! You find that healing in Him! Only Jesus can untangle all the miseries of our souls and bring us healing. If you are going to run, run to Him. If you are going to reach for a 'med', reach for Jesus. Only He can truly deliver!
"Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day." (Deuteronomy 5:15, NLT)
"Once slaves." Once slaves is what every born-again believer once was. We were formerly slaves to sin, spiritually dead, without hope. But God sent His son, Jesus! And, Jesus came and delivered us! He brought freedom, life, and hope to a bound and oppressed people. By the strength of His strong hand and powerful arm, He delivered all who called on His name! Thanks be to God!
For this reason, God commanded the freed children of Israel to rest on the Sabbath. They were to cease all labor, pull away from their work, and keep the day God had blessed and declared holy. This was for their good. It would be their time to draw near to God and remember His Word, His ways, and how much He loved them.
It is no different in our day. God still desires believers to join Him on the Sabbath so that we may be refreshed, supernaturally empowered, and remember Jesus, who delivered us! The Sabbath was created for man. That will never change. It is the Word of God. As we abide in Jesus, our Sabbath rest, we too are to pull away from all our labor and meet with Him. As we cease our labor and enter into His rest, we see the 'work' of Christ, finished on the cross, and are humbled! Salvation's rest.
"And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath." (John 5:16, ESV)
Either Jesus or the Jews were incompatible with the Sabbath. And since Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, I am voting that the Jews were incompatible with the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders reached the point that they were ready to kill Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath. If God created the Sabbath, and He did, I would say that murder probably disqualifies you from being one who honors the Sabbath well.
What makes us incompatible with the Sabbath? Our hearts.
If your heart is going through the motions of being godly, if you are quick to judge others, if you are living a double standard, if you value possessions more than people, if you make life harder rather than easier for others, if you are doing more harm than good towards others—you are incompatible for the rest of God.
What makes us compatible with the Sabbath? Our hearts.
If you are a God-lover, if you are merciful to others, if you do good to others, if you invite others into God's rest, if you free people of demonic strongholds and save life, you are compatible with Sabbath rest.
Those who love God and keep His commandments are more than compatible with God! They are loved, received, refreshed, restored, and filled with God's life. Their fruit will testify to their eagerness to enter God's rest.
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