Progress on Purpose: Work on Resting (Part 2)

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 4:3, 10, 11 ERV)  

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. 

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.

Yesterday I introduced you to this passage.  The Hebrew writer talks to us this morning about a rest that has been available since creation.  After creation, after the Elohim (God the Creator) did all He was going to do, He rested from all His work.  Elohim did not rest because He was tired, He rested because He was finished.  

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee said the following when commenting on this passage: 

“This is the Sabbath.  God rested on the seventh day, and that was the Sabbath day.  However, the Sabbath today is not a day you keep or observe.  Have you entered into the real Sabbath today?  Do you know what it is to trust Christ and Christ alone for your salvation?  Are you trusting anything else?  Is He it?  Have you entered into rest?  I had a good friend who was a doctor and who observed Saturday as the Sabbath.  We used to play tennis together, and we got pretty well acquainted with one another.  One day after we had played three sets of tennis, we sat down on the bench, and we began to have what you would call a religious argument.  He looked at me and said, “McGee, do you keep the Sabbath day?”  “Yes, I keep the Sabbath.”  He looked at me real hard and said, “What day?”  I said to him, “Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then I start all over again on Saturday.”  He said to me, “What in the world do you mean?”  “Well, the way I understand the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Sabbath day is now this day of grace in which we live, and Christ, after He died on the Cross and came back to life, went back to the right hand of the Father and sat down.  He sat down, not because He was tired, but because He had finished your redemption and mine.  So now He tells me, ‘You rest in Me.’  I have a Sabbath day every day—I rest in Christ.”  That doctor friend looked at me in amazement. “Well,” he said, “that’s better than having just one day, isn’t it?”  I said, “It sure is. Seven days a week is a sabbath of resting in Christ.”  

I am not looking to start a debate over whether or not we should rest on Saturday or Sunday.  My point, and the point of this passage, is that there is a supernatural rest available to us and if we would approach the Father in faith, fully persuaded of what He promised, we can tap into this rest daily.  This rest is a rest of grace, comfort, and holiness.  It is a state of being that enables us to be at peace internally, even when things externally may be going haywire.  

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

1.  To fully embrace God’s promises, you must learn to think like God.

In the text, God told the nation of Israel that He was “giving them” the land of Canaan.  The people did not understand it, but God had already promised this land to Abraham 400 years earlier.  He even told Abraham that his descendants would wind up in Egypt and be slaves for 400 years.  God told Abraham that, at just the right time, He would deliver his descendants out of Egypt and lead them into the land He promised.

The nation of Israel did not understand this.  They failed to think like God.  So when they saw that the land was occupied by giants, they failed to REST in what God had promised.  As a result, an entire generation missed out on God’s best.

Like this example, God made plans for you before the world began.  God is working things in your life that He promised to your grandmother and great grandfather.  They are looking down from heaven and smiling as God reveals to you what He promised them.  But if you fail to enter into God’s rest concerning it, like the Israelites did, you run the risk of missing out on God’s promise.  As was the case with the Israelites, just because God promised it, it does not mean you will not have to fight for it.  But while you are fighting the fight of faith, you must be resting in your heart.  The highest form of faith is rest.

*** If you can understand this, you will learn to think and act like God on this planet, and the results will be supernatural! 

2.  You won’t ENTER INTO God’s rest unless you do so on purpose.  

You will not simply wake up one day and find yourself completely free of worry, stress, and unnecessary strain.  You won’t ‘just happen’ to find yourself totally relying on God and not your ability.  If you are going to enjoy divine rest you must believe it has been made available by God’s grace and you will have to pursue it and lay hold of it with your faith.

Stop being passive!  God is not going to force you to be blessed.  God will not impose His best upon your life.  God wants you to enter in and enjoy His rest, but He is looking for you to submit to the process.  Success in life, which can come when you enter into God’s rest, will not require more trying on your part.  It will require more dying.  Die to self and enter into God’s rest.

3.  You won’t REMAIN IN God’s rest unless you do so on purpose.  

Once you have made the effort to lay hold of the divine rest the Father made available to you, you must then make the effort to remain there.  If you are not careful, both satan and your old nature will get you out of God’s rest.  Let me address both…

a)  Satan will do his best to keep you outside of God’s rest.  Make no mistake, we do have an adversary and he is not happy if you are happy.  The enemy and his minions will do all they can to get you OUT of God’s rest and INTO fear, doubt, unbelief, worry, stress, struggle, and strain.  So once you are IN God’s rest you have to strive to remain there.  When negative thoughts come, take control of them quickly and remind yourself of who you are in Christ, of the blessing the Father wants you to richly enjoy, and of the rest that you have been enjoying.  Once you have tasted of this rest you will never want to be without it!

b)  Your mind must be renewed.  While satan will do his best to get you OUT of God’s rest, the reality is that everything is not satan.  If your mind is not renewed to think God’s way, then your unrenewed mind can be as damaging as satan himself.  This is why the Bible urges us to be deprogrammed and then reprogrammed to think the way God thinks.  Once your mind is renewed and your heart is conditioned to experience and expect divine rest, it will be a lot harder for satan to get in, and more importantly, you won’t be defeating yourself with your old thoughts.  

4.  Work on NOT working.  

(Hebrews 4:11 ERV)

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.

The writer of Hebrews teaches us to labor, to work hard on NOT working.  The message is that we must not rely on power, ability, or strength alone.  Human effort is NOT the key to divine success.  We must learn to rely on and rest in God’s grace.  I know this can sometimes be hard because many Christians are much more apt to rely on themselves than God.  But you must make every effort to rely on God, to enter into His rest, and to resist every urge to stress-out over things you should be trusting God for.  

WORK ON NOT WORKING!

That’s enough for today.

Declaration of Faith:

Father, I thank You for teaching me about Your grace and for making it clear to me that Your divine rest is available.  Prior to coming to You, I grew up learning that I needed to be independent.  I was taught to rely on myself.  I developed over the years to the point where I felt proud that I could do things on my own.  Then I was Born-Again and Your Word taught me another way.  Your Word has taught me to totally rely on You.  Your Word is teaching me that You already planned for my existence, You prepared for my arrival, You set up everything I would ever need for success in this world, and You did it because You love me.  Your grace is amazing to me.  You are now teaching me to simply access Your grace with my faith.  You don’t want me to live my life totally relying on me, my ability, or my strength.  You know that if I live that way, it will lead to a life of stress, struggle and strain.  You offer me a better way.  You offer me Your REST by Your grace.  So, Father, my work is now focused on NOT working (with my ability alone).  I make every effort to enter into Your rest and once I am there, I remain there by faith.  I resist every temptation to fall back into fear, doubt, worry, unbelief, stress, struggle, and strife.  I submit unto You, I resist satan, and he flees from me.  Living this way, I Level Up my life 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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