God’s Rest and Work (Part IV)

Moses told the people of God that the Lord had rest for them in the Promised Land but that they had to fight their enemies before they could enjoy the rest He promised them. Similarly, we have spiritual enemies that we need to fight against before we can truly experience the rest God has for us.

These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.  You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.  And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.  You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things. Deuteronomy 12:1-4

“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes— for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety…Deuteronomy 12:8-10

The Israelites had been through a long journey in the wilderness due to unbelief and disobedience. God had brought them out of Egypt to bring them into the rest He had for them in the Promised Land. However, they had work to do before they could enjoy this rest. They had to fight their enemies and dispose of false gods that their enemies worshipped.

Many of us come to salvation but still carry old mindsets, bad habits, and false identities that we need to deal with. Those old mindsets don’t automatically go away after salvation, but they require our effort to dispossess them and break down the strongholds that we have erected.

For example, some have learned to protect themselves by holding on to grudges and not allowing people to get close to them. As a believer, if we carry bitterness and forgiveness in our lives, we cannot experience the rest of God. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we are expected to forgive others regularly if we want the mercies and the forgiveness of God in our lives. The rest of God cannot enter a heart that does not let go of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Some of us have a tendency to get negative when things that don’t go our way. The truth is before complaining starts, we must have entertained negative thoughts and emotions. If we desire to experience the rest of God, we need to learn to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and dispossess negativity and complaining that is part of the old nature. Instead, we are called to give thanks to the Lord. We fight negativity in our lives and learn to be content, which allows us to remain in the rest of God.

Furthermore, the above passage shows us that the rest of God and His inheritance are intertwined. If we truly want to experience all that God has promised us in His word, it will begin with entering His rest. For example, the fruit of the spirit is every believer’s inheritance, but it requires our cooperation with God, and it also needs His rest in our lives. Just as in nature, it takes time and patience to see good and tasty fruit developed,  we cannot develop the fruit of the spirit by striving. We partner with the Lord in our growth, but, at the same time, we rest in God and are being patient with the process of growth.

Sometimes we look for Promised Land as if a particular location, job, relationship, or church can change everything for us. While in some cases that may be true, in many cases, it is more about the internal work we need to do to be at rest in God while at the same time fighting the spiritual enemies that want to steal our peace and identity amid the Promised Land that God has given us.

Do you have a healthy balance where you can rest in the Lord and at the same time are intentional in fighting your spiritual enemies and allowing God to grow you and use you?

Image by Hoang DANG from Pixabay

God’s Rest and Work (Part III)

Salvation and being born-again opens the door to the rest of God. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our spirit man comes alive, and we come to a place of rest in God. However, as we begin to walk with God, the circumstances of life can push us to lose our peace and rest. The good news is that Jesus provided a solution for maintaining our peace and rest in life. He told us that we can be yoked with Him. …

God’s Rest and Work (Part I)

God’s rest and work go hand-in-hand. It all begins with the Lord inviting us to enter His rest. As the Lord grows us, He shows us the good works He has for us. The good works bring life and fruitfulness when they’re done God’s way and in His time! On the other hand, when the works are done in our way or our timing, they produce dead works and create issues.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:21-22

The Lord created the heavens and the earth and placed Adam in a garden with plenty of food for him to enjoy. Up to this point, Adam did not have to toil or work, but the Lord made everything that he needed available to him. Furthermore, God knew that Adam needed a helpmate, so while Adam was sleeping, the Lord provided a wife for him. Adam didn’t have to search for her or beg God, but God provided what Adam needed.

The Lord gave Adam and Eve the responsibility of manning the garden and becoming fruitful. Then God rested on the seventh day (See Genesis 1:28-31). Adam and Eve had the opportunity to live in the rest of God and do the assigned work without toil or struggle.

The rest of God was present in the life of Adam and Eve and the garden, but there was also the presence of freedom and choice. Adam & Eve could have chosen to live in the rest of God and continue to follow God’s mandate in subduing the earth and multiplying. However, once they decided to use their freedom to disobey God, their eyes opened to the evil of insecurity and inferiority, and subsequently, God’s consequences began to play out in their lives.

The garden was the place where the rest of God and our freedom were supposed to coexist. Adam and Eve had plenty of trees to choose from and to enjoy. However, because of man’s disobedience to God’s boundaries, the rest of God collided with their freedom, hence, the separation of man from God. In effect, the Lord was telling them that the day they partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they have chosen to be their own God, and He was not going to be part of it.

Whenever we choose the knowledge of good and evil, we choose unrest, anxiety, and stress, which are the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. This in turn causes people to try to control others and/or their circumstances to alleviate their stress by doing a lot of dead works and walking in carnality.

The truth is that once we open the door to the knowledge of good and evil, we become confused with all the messages we receive. The devil is the father of lies and knows how to deceive people. Good and evil coexist, and many times people are incapable of differentiating between them appropriately, which leads to confusion and division in relationships and society as a whole.

The effect of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is present all around us. We have opened doors that should have never been opened. We have permitted vises in our lives that the Lord never sanctioned. We have exposed ourselves to too much evil in what we watch and/or listen to and wonder why we are so angry, frustrated, and suspicious. Some have questioned the authenticity of the Bible and as a result, they have lost their footing in a very confusing world. Others have tried to counsel people out of sin rather than communicating to them the importance of repentance. When evil is committed by someone we love, some of us justify our actions as if God’s precepts don’t apply to our special people. Some people have been considered unclean because they did not meet the religious standards of a chosen few and did not follow their preferences. All of this evil masquerades as “good” creating unrest, confusion, and frustration leading people to dead works to clean up the messes created.

How do we rest in God and do the good works the Lord has for us!? I will share this in the next devotional.


The Need to Rest (Part IV)

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. Hebrews 4:1-2

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.  Hebrews 4:8-11

In Hebrews 3, the writer tells us that Israelites were not able to enter God’s rest because of unbelief. The writer goes on to tell us in chapter 4 that God’s rest was not appropriated in the life of Israelites because they did not mix faith with what they heard. However, God’s promise of rest still stands for His children. Jesus came to bring us rest from dead works, toil, and anxiety. The Lord’s provision of rest continues to be available for those who believe Him and take Him at His word!

We live in the age of education and information! It is all about learning, reading, and giving mental ascent to some new idea. As Christians, we also fall prey to this approach by thinking that by just reading more books or listening to more sermons, we will become stronger Christians. While reading and listening about the things of God are good things to do, the main ingredient in developing our relationship with the Lord is faith that leads to obedience! When we hear the truth, we must believe that God’s word is trustworthy and that He will accomplish what He has promised us. If we don’t take God at His word, what we hear is not going to profit us, and we will eventually get discouraged and disillusioned in our walk with the Lord! In this case, we must believe that rest is possible, and it is a blessing from the Lord that overcomes the curse of sin and toil!

The word “rest” in the above passage is about ceasing to work or an “intermission.” I like the word picture “intermission” in that it is temporary. When we watch a play, there is usually one or two intermissions during the play. This gives an opportunity for all the actors to have a little rest, and it prepares them for the next part of the play.

The Lord desires for us to live and move from the place of rest. This means when we are busy, we are not toiling or striving. We are in tune with God’s timing and seasons. In addition, the Lord places intermissions in our walk with Him where He wants us to rest and to be at peace without doing much. Many of us are afraid of resting because we think it might be permanent or are worried about others’ opinion of us. We’re concerned that we may look barren if we didn’t have something to make us look busy. We fear looking less important or valuable. All those thoughts are the lies of the enemy, and we need to reject them as such.

God created rest, and it is part of His plan for us! If we run away from resting, then we are running away from how God chooses to operate in the lives of His children and His creation. This leads into carnality and disobedience. While in the natural we may accomplish much, one day we will realize that it was not worth the toil and the stress we put on ourselves and our family.

Are you living in the rest of God? Has the Lord placed you in a season of intermission? What is your response to this season? Continue to seek the Lord and thank Him for the season of rest. Allow Him to comfort you and strengthen you during this time. Allow Him to work things out His way and in His timing.

The Need to Rest (Part III)

Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why are you dealing thus with your servants?  There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, ‘Make brick!’ And indeed your servants are beaten, but the fault is in your own people.”

But he said, “You are idle! Idle! Therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Therefore go now and work; for no straw shall be given you, yet you shall deliver the quota of bricks.” And the officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble after it was said, “You shall not reduce any bricks from your daily quota.” Exodus 5:15-19

The children of Israel were in bondage to Pharaoh for four hundred years. They had worked hard as slaves in Egypt and had been crying out to the Lord for deliverance from this bondage. God heard their cries and sent Moses to the deliver them from the Egyptians. Moses told Pharaoh that God’s people need to go to the wilderness to worship the Lord! Pharaoh took an offense to this. He assumed that the Jews must not be working hard enough and have too much idle time that they want to worship their God.

Whenever we choose to rest in God, the enemy is not happy with that decision. The goal of the enemy is to keep us burdened, busy, and stressed. The enemy has no rest, and he doesn’t want God’s people to rest either. Resting in God can be a spiritual warfare because the enemy wants us to be seen as restless, anxious, and driven people who are not in tune with their God! Rest is a gift from the Lord! Rest gives us the opportunity recognize the God who gave us work to do and to enjoy what we have worked to produce. 

In the above passage, Pharaoh punished God’s people by giving them more work. Egyptians used to provide the straw for the bricks made by the Jews. But now they wanted the Israelites to find their own straw and still produce as many bricks as they did before. Pharaoh burdened and pressure them so much that they would not have time or energy to think about worshipping God! The enemy is still doing the same thing with God’s people. He throws all kinds of distractions to keep people exhausted, busy, and running around to ensure they don’t have time to rest nor do they have any daily devotional time with God.

Unfortunately, we have a culture that celebrates being busy. We perceive being busy as being successful and fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. However, that is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, the demands on people and families continues to increase. Everything including food, housing, cars, and education are becoming more expensive. Hence, the need to work harder and longer. We need to find the time to rest everyday and have a sabbath day of rest every week.

As God’s people, we can’t be swept by the winds of change and allow those things to pressure us to the point that we are enslaved to work and have no time to rest. The Lord does not keep us busy to the point of not having time for Him.  There could be seasons that life is difficult, but as much as it depends on us, we have to make the effort to make time to rest physically and spiritually.

If you find it difficult to rest, suspend most of your activities for a couple of days to seek the Lord. Ask the Lord to show you how you can find time to rest. What needs to be cut off? Let Him show you the areas that your priorities need adjustment. Have you allowed the trends of the culture to dictate how you should live your life!? Are you able to get the sleep you need every night? If you are a caretaker for someone who needs you on a regular basis, pray that God would send workers to hold your arms up. The Lord has designed us with the need to rest! Allow Him to show you and teach you how to do it well. It takes faith to rest well! You can be an example to those around you that rest is possible, and it is a gift that the Lord has made available for His beloved children!