The Gift Of Rest

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the gift of rest.  But like many gifts He offers us, we sometimes let this one sit in our closet unopened.  In this message, I’ll help you unwrap this great gift so you can begin to enjoy its benefits in your life.  If you’re tired and weary, this is a message for you! (Recorded March 15, 2000)

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Message Notes

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Outline

1.  Rest Really Is a Gift

God wants to give us rest.  Its not an “extra” in life, but a necessity for growth.  God has designed us (people, dogs, cats, horses) to rest daily (sleep) or we could not function.  Bears and trees even rest the entire winter every year, and both grow bigger than people ever will!  Rest is not only a good idea, but God’s idea, for us to have peace and to grow.

Throughout the Bible, God has offered rest as a gift to his people.  Here’s one example:

Joshua 1:13-15

“Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

This same rest is still available to us today.  In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews tells us the promise of entering God’s rest still stands.

2.  Unwrapping the Gift of Rest

Hebrews 4:1-2

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Chapters 3 and 4 unlock one of the keys to rest:  combining what we hear with faith.  Faith in the One who made us, Faith that he will do what he says he will do, Faith that He loves us and is working on our behalf.

The other key noted in this passage and others is that we must combine our faith with obedience.

Hebrews 3:19

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Jeremiah 6:16a

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…”

We must be obedient to the words the Lord has given us.  Whether those words have been to stop a certain sin, go a certain direction, do a certain task.  When we take God at his word, and by faith, begin walking in what he says, we will begin to have rest for our souls (even if it may be full of activity).

Faith plus obedience yields rest:

Faith + Obedience => Rest

3.  Practical Ideas for Rest

1) Block out the time for it.  Just as God worked for six days and rested on the seventh, He’s called us to also work for six days and rest on the seventh.

This is not only a good idea, but it is so important, it’s one of the ten commandments!

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Find something to do on the Sabbath Day that will bring rest to your souls, then do it!  You’ll find it restores and refreshes you.  Jesus said the Sabbath was made for us, so let’s make the most of it.

Mark 2:27 “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'”

2) Take your vacation.  God himself called people to take several days or weeks off for various festivals so people could enjoy the fruits of their labor.  This is not only a break, but very productive time to be refreshed for the next season of work.

One example of God calling his people to rest is in Leviticus 23:39-41

“‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.”

3) Take quiet time before the Lord.  Quiet your heart daily by listen to music, reading the Bible, or praying.

I’ve created the CD and devotional “Clear My Mind” for this purpose, which you can listen to on this website or send me a note and I’ll mail you a copy.  The main thing is to take some time alone and allow yourself to be refreshed.  Jesus often got away to a quiet place to pray in between many demands and ministering to thousands.

Luke 6:11-12 records when Jesus was having “one of those days” and went out to pray.

“But they (the Pharisees) were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

Conclusion

Jesus invitation to come to him for rest is open to all of us.  If you’ve never come to Jesus before, today’s a great day to do it.  You’ll not only get rest, but when you repent of your sins and put your faith in Him, you’ll also get the ultimate rest at the end of this life:  eternal peace with God in heaven.  Without a commitment to Christ, you’re headed for a lifetime of hell here on earth and beyond.  Respond to Jesus’ invitation and come to Him today.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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