Fellowship of the Rest
So, it looks like our everyday life is changing again. Many of the states if not all 50 states are opening. We seem to be moving forward together. I wonder what historians will write about the Covid time? Looks like we as a people, now need to change again. Put behind us, the slow-downed stay at home, work-at- home days. Those days when we spent more time with our kids, our wives, our husbands, our TV' s, our computers. We have adventured out using our imagination. Spending more time with our pets. We have had new opportunities: to slow down, look at the things that are all around us, things that have shaped our lives, activities that are shaping our lives. Hopefully, it has been a great time for you.
The COVID-19 is, and was, a confusing time. It has made some of us disillusioned. Some of us like just being buried in our houses. During this time, life was, and life will be, different. But we do not need to be dismayed, we can take great refuge in maybe using this storm and making it work for God. I do not know for certain what Jesus has in mind or that He has any end in mind, other than what we already know about Jesus. He knows the promises that He made to each of us. That our time here on earth would not pass in vain, if we serve His purposes. We do matter to Jesus, and the million-dollar question is, how do we matter? So, what are our motivations, what should our goals be for right now, for this day. What should I be doing with Jesus?
As usual, and for good reason, we will be going to God's word to figure this out. God's word is designed for our pleasure, therefore our pleasures and what pleases God should be the same. Also, the Word or words of God, gives us an indication of what God wants us to be doing. I can find about 3 positive motivations in the New Testament. Three inexplicable activities that Jesus wants us to be doing. He gives us a whole lot of warnings about what should not be our motivations. For the purposes of this blog, I just want to talk about the three I have found that are positive in spirit. The “do these things” type of statements we find in the words of God.
Number one is Rest. If we learn to Rest in Jesus, which we can, we will be able to do the things that are pleasing to God, more efficiently. Finding Rest in Jesus can give us strength and encouragement to relax and deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Lets spend some time getting into what the words of God or examples of Resting in God have to say. Maybe a good place to start is the beginning. You know back in the garden.
The story goes like this. Heaven and Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By the 7th day God finished His work. On the 7th day he Rested from all His work. God blessed the 7th day. He made it a holy day because on that day He rested from his work, all that creating God had done was finished. This is a story of how it all started, when heaven and earth were created.
From above we can see that rest is:
• Done after it is finished (sound familiar)
• Holy (signified by a day of the week, lot of calculations 1/7 of our time)
• Opposite of work.
• A blessed day
• It was the start of something new.
From here we can imagine what the garden was like. We can use the visuals we have on earth now to imagine how beautiful it was, how relaxing it could have been. So, God finished all this work and He wanted to put man and woman in the middle of it. So, on this 7th day He was relaxing, kind of chilling (if God can chill) he thought about how beneficial and great His creation would be to have inhabitants here managing and taking care of the earth. He wanted to share the rest that He had on the 7th day. He wanted us to enjoy the beauty of nature that He created and all the blessings that it has in store for us. This creation is what you want to see and live in, right?
Most of us, if not all of us, can appreciate what happened next. We screwed up the management of this creation deal. We could not follow some simple instructions, so the rest had to go away. We had to leave the garden. Leave the very dirt that we were made of, to go trod on some other dirt, where the weeds are like mountains, stepping on thorns that humble us and working hard. We had to leave the very presence of God and the “REST” we were created to live in. What a colossal blunder!
So now today, no more ceasing, no more resting, no more siestas, relaxing, chilling or being quiet. Now we must worry, we must stress, we must think about tomorrow. Letting someone else guide and direct our lives is gone. We cannot just sit back and enjoy, GONE! Now, let’s fast forward to Jesus, to the cross and His resurrection and the canceling of our past or how He reconciled the Garden REST, to us now.
To rest in God/Jesus means: we must think there is no other way to be blessed, than to be happy or Resting in Jesus. That means to be happy in our journey of life, with whatever life Jesus sends us, but that life must be in Jesus. We do not get to manage Jesus; we do not get to have Jesus as an addition. It means Jesus is at the center of all we do and who we are. This is the Gospel of Rest. The Fellowship of, The Rest in Jesus.
This is the Fellowship of the Gospel call; “Whoever will, let him come. All who thus come will receive REST as Christ's gift, and obtain peace and comfort in their hearts. But in coming to Him they must take His yoke and submit to His authority. They must learn of Him in all things, as to their comfort and obedience. He accepts the willing servant, however imperfect the services. Here we may find Rest for our souls, and here only. Nor need we fear His yoke.” Matthew Henry. Concise version Matthew 11:25-30
Of the three motivations that I found in the New Testament: Rest seems to me to be foundational. Rest is connected to the other 2 motivations for life with Jesus. And it seems to be that Rest is paramount and foundational to fulfilling the other two motives correctly. If we rest in Jesus we will think rightly about life: about each other, about our work about our relationships. I remember an old Beatles lyric from the song, “Come Together”. It says, “hold you in his armchair and you can feel his disease”. If we rest in Jesus and what He has done for us, He will hold us in His armchair, and we’ll feel His harmonies.
We have an abstract concept when it comes to finding Rest in Jesus. Rest is not some distant, far off way of thinking. Jesus offers us cooperative Rest. Rest from our own mind’s dichotomy, from our own weary thinking, from the pressures of life, from the dichotomy of right and wrong. On the cross, Jesus achieved the ultimate Rest for us. I find my Rest in reading and studying God’s word, but the payoff is when a thought that would usually stress me out, is not there anymore. No more thought, connecting to a physical, tangible or chemical reaction in my brain.
I can describe it best as ascending and descending on a ladder. In the past, as I ascended the ladder of my life and reached for the next rung, turmoil came in and my next bad move was to step down to that old familiar rung below of worry, stress and panic. Or going back or down to the world would resolve my issue. That step down to me, is calculating the possibilities that may or may not exist and those calculations are always not good. With “The Fellowship of Rest,” the step down, that familiar bad habit of going down the rung or back is gone! Not there! Cannot find it! No other way to go but up. The Rest removes old patterns that do not work and replaces them with peace and rest.
Rest in Jesus allows our thoughts and motives to please God.
Let Jesus determine your path, let Him write the lyrics of your songs, let Him foretell your future, let Him pave the good road to travel on. Let Him supply the Rest you need. Let Him give you an active Rest. A finished interest in you, Rest. Loving Rest that will last an eternity. Jesus wants to give you Rest from your past, give you Rest now and a promised Rest for eternity.
What are you Resting in today? Like I said at the beginning. God’s word is filled with warnings of what not to Rest in. Anything you Rest in that is not Jesus is not rest. Or I will say it this way. There is no Rest other than Jesus. Money, power, your family or anything else you believe is more important than Jesus is you managing Jesus. So, give your Rest to Jesus. If you have already accepted Jesus as your leader, and your Lord, that is great! Make sure there is nothing in the way of His genuine Rest. Jesus wants absolute dedication to Resting in Him.
If you have not found rest in Jesus and you do not know Him, ask Him to reveal Himself. He will show and tell you how to find the rest. You need to knock on His door; He is waiting for you to experiment through experience. What has He done for you? Everything! What has He done for me? Everything! Being motivated by my Rest in Jesus, is everything!!
How to find rest:
• In prayer, ask God about the Rest He offers. He will reveal it, but you must knock, seek and ask.
• Read what others say about rest. https://www.biblestudytools.com/matthew/passage/?q=matthew+11:25-30
• Find time to do the above things.
Rest, one of three motivations in your walk with Jesus,
Motivation number 2, Pleasing God.