Progress on Purpose: Work on Resting

by Rick

Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.”  I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!”  But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress.  With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas: 

1.  Spiritually

2.  Financially

3.  Physically 

4.  Internally

5.  Externally

We have covered the first three thus far.  Today we are looking at the fourth: Leveling up internally.  In this section, I will cover the following:

1.  Being anxious for nothing

2.  Receiving unshakable peace

3.  Joy and peace in believing

4.  Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest

5.  The highest form of faith is rest

We have covered the first four.  Today, and for the next few days, we will talk about the last one.

Setting the stage:

(Heb 4:1-11 ERV)  

1  And we still have the promise that God gave those people. That promise is that we can enter his place of rest. So we should be very careful that none of you fails to get that promise. 

2 Yes, the good news about it was told to us just as it was to them. But the message they heard did not help them. They heard it but did not accept it with faith. 

3 Only we who believe it are able to enter God’s place of rest. As God said,

“I was angry and made a promise: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” 

But God’s work was finished from the time he made the world. 

4 Yes, somewhere in the Scriptures he talked about the seventh day of the week. He said, “So on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”

5 But in the Scripture above God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”

6 So the opportunity is still there for some to enter and enjoy God’s rest. But those who first heard the good news about it did not enter, because they did not obey. 

7 So God planned another special day. It is called “today.” He spoke about that day through David a long time later using the words we quoted before: “If you hear God’s voice today, don’t be stubborn.” 

8 We know that Joshua did not lead the people into the place of rest that God promised. We know this because God spoke later about another day for rest. 

9 This shows that the seventh-day rest for God’s people is still to come. 

10 God rested after he finished his work. So everyone who enters God’s place of rest will also have rest from their own work just as God did. 

11 So let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s place of rest. We must try hard so that none of us will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey God.

I normally don’t lay out this many verses for you, but I was led to.  I wanted you to read the entire passage before we start breaking it down.  If you have the time, please read it more than once to get down in your spirit.

I know 2020 was not easy for many people.  2021 is still somewhat of a struggle for many.  So the message of learning how to enter into God’s rest is critical.  To be clear, God never promised an easy life.  God knew that we would face challenges.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me.  In this world you will have troubles. But be brave!  I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).  God never promised us a perpetual picnic, but He does not expect us to operate as wimps either.  The Father expects us, as His representatives in the earth, to live our lives as overcomers.  We overcome because He overcame!

Jehovah expects us to be light (shining) and salt (preserving) in the midst of darkness and decay.  The Holy Spirit equips us to handle the pressures of life and to experience true victory over negative stress, so the world can see Jesus IN us!  

This passage is about entering into God’s rest.  We are called to live by faith, God’s peace is available to us when we truly trust Him, but rest, to me, is another level altogether.  When you enter into God’s rest concerning something, then that’s it!  As far as you are concerned, it’s a done deal, whether the deal is actually done (in the natural) or not.  

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things:

1.  The offer of rest (from Hebrews 4) still stands.

In the third chapter of this letter to the Hebrews, the writer quotes Psalm 95 psalm at length.  He speaks of the Israelites who died in the wilderness because of their unbelief.  The author then juxtaposes the unbelief of the Israelites in chapter 3 with the faith of believers in chapter 4.  The question raised is this: Is the promise of entering God’s rest (given to the Israelites but forfeited because of unbelief) still valid in our time?  The answer is a resounding yes!  The offer still stands, the rest is still available, the blessing is still there waiting for us, but only “we who have believed enter that rest” (verse 3).  

The believing part (faith) is the key.  This is why the writer tells us that some may fail to experience it.  I would venture to say that many today fail to experience it because of the hustle and bustle of modern-day life.  People today are driven by calendars, email, meetings, zoom calls, and non-stop activity.  Taking to God, praying, reading their Word, and things related to their spiritual life wind up being more like “another thing on my to-do list.”  People who live this way have a hard time entering into God’s rest where their faith is concerned because if something does not happen right away, their habits (built up over time, with constant busy schedules) lead them to want to MOVE ON to the next thing.

Whether we have failed to experience it in the past or not, the fact is that God’s rest – a supernatural rest – is available to us today and if we take Him up on His offer.  God’s rest can change the way we experience life forever!

2.  We must learn to embrace the peace of God and enter into His rest BY FAITH.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, when commenting on this passage, said: “The Canaan rest for Israel is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we surrender to Him.  When we come to Christ by faith, we find salvation rest (Mat 11:28).  When we yield and learn of Him and obey Him by faith, we enjoy submission rest (Mat 11:29-30).  The first is “peace with God” (Rom 5:1); the second is the “peace of God” (Phi 4:6-8).  It is by believing that we enter into rest (Heb 4:3); it is by obeying God by faith and surrendering to His will that God’s rest enters into us.”  I could not have said it better.  

Having peace WITH God is one thing, but having the peace OF God is something else.  The rest that is available to us today is far greater than what the Israelites would have experienced in Canaan.  How do I know?  Because we have a better covenant!  Our covenant was ratified with the Blood of Jesus, not the blood of bullocks, goats, and turtledoves.  Interestingly enough, the book of Hebrews is often referred to as the “Book of Better Things” or the book that describes the “Better Covenant.”  The word “better” is repeated over and over again in the book.  

The covenant we enjoy in Christ is far greater than the covenant the Jews enjoyed through Abraham.  That being the case, the rest offered to us today must be even greater than the Canaan rest offered to the Jews!  But guess what?  The faith-factor still applies.  Just like the Israelites had to mix what they heard with “faith” in order to experience the rest they were offered, we must do the same thing.  In essence, I am announcing (or preaching) to you the fact that God’s rest is available, just like it was preached to them.  And just like they required faith to receive it, you do as well.  You must mix what you are receiving WITH FAITH if it is going to do you any good.

— God’s supernatural rest is available to you, but you must receive it, tap into it, and make a demand for it, by faith!  

— If you don’t tap into God’s rest by faith, you will be one of those who fail to experience it, and it won’t be God’s fault.

— The Father has done His part.  He sent His Son to die in your stead, He left you his Word so you can know what is available to you, He dealt to you the measure of faith (Rom 12:3), and He gave you His Spirit.  You have everything you ended to enjoy God’s best.  God’s part is done.  The offer still stands.  God’s rest is available.  But you must receive it by faith!

— Tying this back to the passage:

The gospel (good news) that the writer refers to in this passage was the good news that the Lord was giving the newly freed Israelites the land of Canaan, the land promised to the forefathers to give them.  The Lord told Moses that He was giving them the land and that he was to send in 12 spies to survey the land, to bring back evidence of the land’s goodness, and to perform reconnaissance of the inhabitants because taking possession of the land would require a fight.  Moses told the people what God said (he preached the gospel), the spies went into the land, they brought back physical evidence of how good the land was, but they then made the fatal mistake of allowing fear to cancel out their faith.  Because the land was inhabited by giants (the Anakin), 10 of the 12 spies developed a ‘grasshopper mentality’ and told the people that there was no way that they could do it.  Although 2 of the 12 (Joshua and Caleb) did their best to drive home the message (preach the gospel) that they COULD do it, that they COULD take possession of the land, that they COULD enter into God’s rest, the crowd (millions of people) sided with the 10 instead of the 2 and the rest, as the say, is history.  Millions of people wound up dying in the desert without ever entering into God’s best, all because of unbelief.  

*** Don’t ever allow fear to cause you to PUT A NO where GOD PUT A YES!

3.  A few closing thoughts on this passage.

a)  Rest is part of the promises of God:  

The Father wanted rest for the Israelites, and He wants rest for you today.  When I say “rest” I don’t mean ‘laying down on the couch’ or ‘taking a nap.’  I mean a supernatural internal peace that enables you to maximize your purpose and potential in life, because without it, you can easily cross over into frustration.  Frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.”  Will there be times when you feel like you have unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems?  Of course, there will be, but that’s where divine rest comes in.  The Father wants you to trust Him SO much that you can truly rest, even while you are waiting on the manifestation of His promises in your life.  Because if you don’t enter His divine rest, the enemy can creep in and get you to lose heart, to relax the grip on your faith, and to give up!  

b)  The promises of God must be received by faith:  

Like anything else in the Kingdom of God, divine rest must be received by faith.  The Israelites in the text failed to mix faith with what they heard, and their lack of faith led to a catastrophic failure where millions of people missed experiencing God’s best.  Don’t let this be said of you.  Live by faith, engage the Father in faith, and enter into divine rest by faith!

c)  Even though God wants you to have it, it does not mean you will not have to fight for it:  

I am not talking about a physical fight but rather the good fight of faith.  The Hebrew writer goes on to say, “Let us labor to enter into that rest” (v.11).  Remaining in God’s rest is not always easy.  The enemy will do his best to get you over into fear, fret, and frustration, but you must be strong enough NOT to allow him to.  Once you are in God’s rest you must fight to remain there.  When the negative thoughts enter into your mind, you must take control of them and bring them captive into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5).  If you do that, you will be able to enjoy divine rest daily!

That’s enough for today.

Declaration of Faith:

Father, I thank You for this series, and I thank You for taking the time to show me the type of divine rest that is possible through Your Word and Your Spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I enter into that rest today.  I receive the Word, I mix it with faith, I apply it to my life, and I enter into Your rest.  I trust You with my whole heart, I believe You can do all things in and through my life, I live by faith, and my life of faith enables me to LIVE every day in Your rest.  When the enemy attempts to get me out of Your rest, I will resist every negative thought and bring them captive to the obedience of Christ.  I will not allow myself or the enemy to get me OUT of Your rest.  I live in a stress-free environment from this day forward.  I face challenges by faith, fully confident that You will bless me to overcome them.  I overcome because Jesus already overcame.  I level up in my ability to REST in 2021!  GREATER IS COMING FOR ME!  I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name.  Amen!

Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.”  I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!”  But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress.  With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas: 

1.  Spiritually

2.  Financially

3.  Physically 

4.  Internally

5.  Externally

We have covered the first three thus far.  Today we are looking at the fourth: Leveling up internally.  In this section, I will cover the following:

1.  Being anxious for nothing

2.  Receiving unshakable peace

3.  Joy and peace in believing

4.  Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest

5.  The highest form of faith is rest

We have covered the first four.  Today, and for the next few days, we will talk about the last one.

Setting the stage:

(Heb 4:1-11 ERV)  

1  And we still have the promise that God gave those people. That promise is that we can enter his place of rest. So we should be very careful that none of you fails to get that promise. 

2 Yes, the good news about it was told to us just as it was to them. But the message they heard did not help them. They heard it but did not accept it with faith. 

3 Only we who believe it are able to enter God’s place of rest. As God said,

“I was angry and made a promise: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” 

But God’s work was finished from the time he made the world. 

4 Yes, somewhere in the Scriptures he talked about the seventh day of the week. He said, “So on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”

5 But in the Scripture above God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”

6 So the opportunity is still there for some to enter and enjoy God’s rest. But those who first heard the good news about it did not enter, because they did not obey. 

7 So God planned another special day. It is called “today.” He spoke about that day through David a long time later using the words we quoted before: “If you hear God’s voice today, don’t be stubborn.” 

8 We know that Joshua did not lead the people into the place of rest that God promised. We know this because God spoke later about another day for rest. 

9 This shows that the seventh-day rest for God’s people is still to come. 

10 God rested after he finished his work. So everyone who enters God’s place of rest will also have rest from their own work just as God did. 

11 So let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s place of rest. We must try hard so that none of us will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey God.

I normally don’t lay out this many verses for you, but I was led to.  I wanted you to read the entire passage before we start breaking it down.  If you have the time, please read it more than once to get down in your spirit.

I know 2020 was not easy for many people.  2021 is still somewhat of a struggle for many.  So the message of learning how to enter into God’s rest is critical.  To be clear, God never promised an easy life.  God knew that we would face challenges.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me.  In this world you will have troubles. But be brave!  I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).  God never promised us a perpetual picnic, but He does not expect us to operate as wimps either.  The Father expects us, as His representatives in the earth, to live our lives as overcomers.  We overcome because He overcame!

Jehovah expects us to be light (shining) and salt (preserving) in the midst of darkness and decay.  The Holy Spirit equips us to handle the pressures of life and to experience true victory over negative stress, so the world can see Jesus IN us!  

This passage is about entering into God’s rest.  We are called to live by faith, God’s peace is available to us when we truly trust Him, but rest, to me, is another level altogether.  When you enter into God’s rest concerning something, then that’s it!  As far as you are concerned, it’s a done deal, whether the deal is actually done (in the natural) or not.  

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things:

1.  The offer of rest (from Hebrews 4) still stands.

In the third chapter of this letter to the Hebrews, the writer quotes Psalm 95 psalm at length.  He speaks of the Israelites who died in the wilderness because of their unbelief.  The author then juxtaposes the unbelief of the Israelites in chapter 3 with the faith of believers in chapter 4.  The question raised is this: Is the promise of entering God’s rest (given to the Israelites but forfeited because of unbelief) still valid in our time?  The answer is a resounding yes!  The offer still stands, the rest is still available, the blessing is still there waiting for us, but only “we who have believed enter that rest” (verse 3).  

The believing part (faith) is the key.  This is why the writer tells us that some may fail to experience it.  I would venture to say that many today fail to experience it because of the hustle and bustle of modern-day life.  People today are driven by calendars, email, meetings, zoom calls, and non-stop activity.  Taking to God, praying, reading their Word, and things related to their spiritual life wind up being more like “another thing on my to-do list.”  People who live this way have a hard time entering into God’s rest where their faith is concerned because if something does not happen right away, their habits (built up over time, with constant busy schedules) lead them to want to MOVE ON to the next thing.

Whether we have failed to experience it in the past or not, the fact is that God’s rest – a supernatural rest – is available to us today and if we take Him up on His offer.  God’s rest can change the way we experience life forever!

2.  We must learn to embrace the peace of God and enter into His rest BY FAITH.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, when commenting on this passage, said: “The Canaan rest for Israel is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we surrender to Him.  When we come to Christ by faith, we find salvation rest (Mat 11:28).  When we yield and learn of Him and obey Him by faith, we enjoy submission rest (Mat 11:29-30).  The first is “peace with God” (Rom 5:1); the second is the “peace of God” (Phi 4:6-8).  It is by believing that we enter into rest (Heb 4:3); it is by obeying God by faith and surrendering to His will that God’s rest enters into us.”  I could not have said it better.  

Having peace WITH God is one thing, but having the peace OF God is something else.  The rest that is available to us today is far greater than what the Israelites would have experienced in Canaan.  How do I know?  Because we have a better covenant!  Our covenant was ratified with the Blood of Jesus, not the blood of bullocks, goats, and turtledoves.  Interestingly enough, the book of Hebrews is often referred to as the “Book of Better Things” or the book that describes the “Better Covenant.”  The word “better” is repeated over and over again in the book.  

The covenant we enjoy in Christ is far greater than the covenant the Jews enjoyed through Abraham.  That being the case, the rest offered to us today must be even greater than the Canaan rest offered to the Jews!  But guess what?  The faith-factor still applies.  Just like the Israelites had to mix what they heard with “faith” in order to experience the rest they were offered, we must do the same thing.  In essence, I am announcing (or preaching) to you the fact that God’s rest is available, just like it was preached to them.  And just like they required faith to receive it, you do as well.  You must mix what you are receiving WITH FAITH if it is going to do you any good.

— God’s supernatural rest is available to you, but you must receive it, tap into it, and make a demand for it, by faith!  

— If you don’t tap into God’s rest by faith, you will be one of those who fail to experience it, and it won’t be God’s fault.

— The Father has done His part.  He sent His Son to die in your stead, He left you his Word so you can know what is available to you, He dealt to you the measure of faith (Rom 12:3), and He gave you His Spirit.  You have everything you ended to enjoy God’s best.  God’s part is done.  The offer still stands.  God’s rest is available.  But you must receive it by faith!

— Tying this back to the passage:

The gospel (good news) that the writer refers to in this passage was the good news that the Lord was giving the newly freed Israelites the land of Canaan, the land promised to the forefathers to give them.  The Lord told Moses that He was giving them the land and that he was to send in 12 spies to survey the land, to bring back evidence of the land’s goodness, and to perform reconnaissance of the inhabitants because taking possession of the land would require a fight.  Moses told the people what God said (he preached the gospel), the spies went into the land, they brought back physical evidence of how good the land was, but they then made the fatal mistake of allowing fear to cancel out their faith.  Because the land was inhabited by giants (the Anakin), 10 of the 12 spies developed a ‘grasshopper mentality’ and told the people that there was no way that they could do it.  Although 2 of the 12 (Joshua and Caleb) did their best to drive home the message (preach the gospel) that they COULD do it, that they COULD take possession of the land, that they COULD enter into God’s rest, the crowd (millions of people) sided with the 10 instead of the 2 and the rest, as the say, is history.  Millions of people wound up dying in the desert without ever entering into God’s best, all because of unbelief.  

*** Don’t ever allow fear to cause you to PUT A NO where GOD PUT A YES!

3.  A few closing thoughts on this passage.

a)  Rest is part of the promises of God:  

The Father wanted rest for the Israelites, and He wants rest for you today.  When I say “rest” I don’t mean ‘laying down on the couch’ or ‘taking a nap.’  I mean a supernatural internal peace that enables you to maximize your purpose and potential in life, because without it, you can easily cross over into frustration.  Frustration is: “A feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.”  Will there be times when you feel like you have unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems?  Of course, there will be, but that’s where divine rest comes in.  The Father wants you to trust Him SO much that you can truly rest, even while you are waiting on the manifestation of His promises in your life.  Because if you don’t enter His divine rest, the enemy can creep in and get you to lose heart, to relax the grip on your faith, and to give up!  

b)  The promises of God must be received by faith:  

Like anything else in the Kingdom of God, divine rest must be received by faith.  The Israelites in the text failed to mix faith with what they heard, and their lack of faith led to a catastrophic failure where millions of people missed experiencing God’s best.  Don’t let this be said of you.  Live by faith, engage the Father in faith, and enter into divine rest by faith!

c)  Even though God wants you to have it, it does not mean you will not have to fight for it:  

I am not talking about a physical fight but rather the good fight of faith.  The Hebrew writer goes on to say, “Let us labor to enter into that rest” (v.11).  Remaining in God’s rest is not always easy.  The enemy will do his best to get you over into fear, fret, and frustration, but you must be strong enough NOT to allow him to.  Once you are in God’s rest you must fight to remain there.  When the negative thoughts enter into your mind, you must take control of them and bring them captive into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5).  If you do that, you will be able to enjoy divine rest daily!

That’s enough for today.

Declaration of Faith:

Father, I thank You for this series, and I thank You for taking the time to show me the type of divine rest that is possible through Your Word and Your Spirit.  I declare, by faith, that I enter into that rest today.  I receive the Word, I mix it with faith, I apply it to my life, and I enter into Your rest.  I trust You with my whole heart, I believe You can do all things in and through my life, I live by faith, and my life of faith enables me to LIVE every day in Your rest.  When the enemy attempts to get me out of Your rest, I will resist every negative thought and bring them captive to the obedience of Christ.  I will not allow myself or the enemy to get me OUT of Your rest.  I live in a stress-free environment from this day forward.  I face challenges by faith, fully confident that You will bless me to overcome them.  I overcome because Jesus already overcame.  I level up in my ability to REST in 2021!  GREATER IS COMING FOR ME!  I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and prosper!

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