Episode 1. God’s Rest Comes on God’s Terms
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
A lot of people are tired – exhausted. Sometimes – it’s the obvious things – too much work, not enough sleep. But there’s a spiritual dimension to tiredness too. Imagine God is God …
So many people are struggling to get enough rest in their lives. One of the reasons for that, is that we think we can burn the candle at both ends, we think we can do it our way. But … God made us. He knows us. Maybe we need to try, His way.
I remember once way back when I was a teenager, you know how difficult teenagers can be when we’re growing up. And there’s a reason for that. Being a teenager is about moving from childhood into adulthood and that means establishing yourself as someone who’s independent of your parents.
And because it’s a learning time we all make lots of mistakes in those teenage years. That’s why God put us in a family with parents who have both the love and the maturity to cope with our mistakes and to guide us through that growing up process.
Anyhow, I remember once when I was a teenager I must have really been pushing the boundaries with my father, and he said to me, ‘Son, I love you very much but as long as you live in my house under my roof and eat the food I provide you and wear the clothes I buy for you, you’ll do as I say. If you don’t like it there’s the front door go and live on the other side of it.’
Well, well, I was so offended. How dare he say that to me? How dare he. Now my dad passed away quite a few years ago now. And I’m no longer a teenager, I’m now in my early fifties. I have grey hair and hopefully just a bit more wisdom and maturity in life than I did back then.
And what I realise now is that all that my parents provided for me in those growing up years was an incredible privilege and a blessing. And because they were the providers that blessing came on their terms not on mine.
So how are you at the beginning of another week? Isn’t the year racing by at a great rate of knots? Unbelievable.
Now last week on the program we started a series of messages that I called “Oh God I Need A Rest”. And I know, I know that this is a subject that kind of hits many people right between the eyes. Quite simply because so many people are tired.
Tired of the grind. Tired of the stress. Tired of the problems. Tired because they work so hard. Tired because, well there are so many things that can make us tired, so many. And I guess we spent some time last week looking at the causes of our tiredness, the spiritual dimension.
The fact that God’s perfect plan for us, as we saw with Adam and Eve in the garden, right from the beginning was to have a perfect relationship with Him. Yes to work, Adam was called to till and to keep the garden. You can read that in Genesis chapter 2, verse 15. But also to walk in the cool of the morning with God. To have safety and peace on every side. Not to be stressed. Not to be exhausted all the time.
But that all came apart when Adam and Eve rejected God by doing the one thing, the one thing He told them not to. And so that perfect existence ended and pain came into childbirth for the woman and hard toil and labour came into work for the man and enmity and strife came between the man and the woman.
All this as a direct consequence of their sin. They missed the point completely which is exactly what the word sin means. And so they suffered the consequences.
Well this week, this week we’re going to take a look at the solution. Great to understand the problem but we need a solution to the tiredness and exhaustion that many people live through day by day. So this week we’re going to look at how to enter into God’s rest. How? Rubber hits the road stuff.
And the first part of that ‘how’ comes back to the story I shared with you about my teenage years and that tough lesson of love that my father had to teach me when I was being a precocious self-centred teenager. What was that lesson? Simply this: the blessing that my parents heaped upon me came on their terms not on mine
I always find it interesting that out of the Ten Commandments the first four are about our relationship with God. How we should honour Him. But the very next one, the fifth Commandment is about us and our parents. Have a listen to it because the lesson we need to learn is reflected right here in the fifth Commandment. Exodus chapter 20, verse 12:
Honour your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
See the blessing of long days is attached to obedience. God blesses us when we honour our parents. And get this, this Commandment about honouring our parents comes ahead of “You shall not murder” Which is number six and “You shall not commit adultery” which is number seven and “You shall not steal” which is number eight and so on.
So God considers it of first importance after our relationship with Him. And that, that is the first thing that we need to know and to learn about blessing. Blessing comes on the terms of the giver and not on the terms of the receiver. And it’s exactly the same with the blessings of God’s peace and God’s rest.
That blessing comes on God’s terms. And that’s something that I’ve had to get through my thick skull. It’s taken a while and you know, to be honest, it’s still a work in progress. See spiritually, when it comes to obeying God I think we all want to be teenagers. We want the blessing to be on our terms as though somehow we deserve it.
Well let’s get a revelation here together today, you and I, we don’t deserve it. God’s blessing is an act of grace that comes to us through the death of His Son who paid for all our sin. In a nutshell, here it is, Adam and Eve had a perfect existence in the garden until they disobeyed God. Genesis chapter 3, verse 11, God said to Adam: Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
And so they lost their perfect existence. We’ve done that too in rebelling against God. Read the whole of the Old Testament and we can see how incapable humanity is of honouring God. And so God sends His Son to pay for our sin. To open the door again so that we can have a relationship with Him.
But have a listen to what the New Testament says about God’s peace and His rest and how to get it, how it becomes available to us. Hebrews chapter 4, verse 9 through 11:
So then a Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labours as God did from His. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest so that no one may fall through disobedience.
The one thing that takes God’s Sabbath rest away from us is what? Disobedience. And actually that’s something I’ve learned in my walk with God. It’s something I already know. When I’ve decided, on occasion, to go off in my own direction, to do things my way against Gods will, you know what happens? There’s no rest in that place, there’s no peace in that place.
Life starts getting hard and complicated. If we harbour anger in our hearts, if we fail to forgive people, if we steal or lie or grumble. Against God’s will and all of those things are against God’s will, we lose any sense of peace. On the other hand, when we obey God, well have a listen, 1 John chapter 5, verses 3 and 4:
For the love of God is this, that we obey His Commandments and His Commandments aren’t burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world and this is the victory that conquers the world. Our faith. When we obey God we have victory and what does that victory bring? When there’s a war and finally one side wins, what comes after that is peace. What comes after that is rest.
When Israel entered the Promised Land they fought battle after battle but they obeyed God and what happened? Joshua chapter 21, verse 44:
And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as He’d sworn to their ancestors.
My friend, the rest of God, His peace comes on His terms. The sooner we get that the sooner we’ll enter God’s rest.