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					Sermon: Readiness from Rest

Date:         9 January 2011 – Morning service
Preacher:     Pastor Francois van Niekerk

    Rush hour traffic in a big city is a nightmare! Everyone needs to be somewhere
    and do something in a hurry. Whether you are from a small town visiting the big
    city or a regular city dweller on your way to work, rush hour traffic is never good.
    You have no control over it. There is nothing you can do. You feel so powerless!
    The problem is that we are caught between urgency and stagnation. Even if we
    have the will and the need to move forward, we can‟t – frustration and anger
    sometimes reaching boiling point!
    This is characteristic not only of traffic, but also of our modern lives. It is not only
    on the road that we are rushed or face crisis. Many people are also rushed in
    their inner world – in their hearts and minds. For many Rush is a constant
    companion. We move from deadline to deadline; satisfying one thing after
    another; meeting one need after the other.
    It doesn‟t stop here! The pressure of having to be somewhere, meeting demands,
    getting things done and handling crisis in a rush also seeps through to our inner
    world. And so we sit with turmoil on the inside leading to tiredness of spirit, soul
    and body – often the consequence of wrong perceptions, errors in judgment and
    poor quality of life.
    Against this backdrop, God started speaking to me in His usual calm, yet
    convincing way. I sensed Him saying, „In the spirit world (the unseen realm from
    where God firstly works) readiness comes from rest. Make sure you remain in
    My rest so that you will be ready for what I have for you.‟
    His promise of rest in Hebrews 4:1 still stands!
    This message is aimed at helping you to find, stay and live from the special place
    called God‟s rest. It‟s a case of rest ... ready ... go!

Text: Hebrews 4:9 (NLT)
„So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.‟

Main points
1. What and where is this place of rest?
   It has been ready since the creation of the world.
   „… this rest has been ready since He made the world. We know it is ready
   because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the
   seventh day God rested from all His work.”‟
                                                              Hebrews 4:3b-4 (NLT)
   It is a state of heart and mind in perfect peace and security, reached by faith in
   God‟s complete care and control. Rest is complete confidence in God‟s loving
   It is in the Spirit – a position from where the rhythms of our lives are directed by
   the Holy Spirit. Let me remind you that in the spiritual realm things often work the
   opposite way to the natural world. Let me explain. In the physical world things
   happen best from a place of preparation and effort from our side. For example,
   one will not approach the ambition to become a top brain surgeon from a position
   of rest, but with careful preparation and arduous studies over many years. In the
   spirit world it works the opposite way. We first have to enter the place of rest by
   faith before we can work!
   The place of rest was perfected through the work of Jesus.
   We need to realise again that things of eternal value, and the quality of life God
   wants us to experience, come not from our efforts but from His careful
   preparation and work. God has worked for our rest. He prepared a place of rest
   (Hebrews4: 6). His plan was fulfilled and executed through Jesus‟ life on earth
   and His complete work on the Cross. Jesus said that He came to do the work of
   His Father and on the cross He said, „It is finished…‟ He did a perfect job! I need
   constant reminding of this and think we all do!
   Understanding this with our minds and hearts again and again pushes the reset
   button in a busy world of mad rushing and pressure.
   Let‟s heed Jesus‟ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT):
   „“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give
   you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and
   gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear,
   and the burden I give you is light.”‟

2. Requirements of rest
    From the context of Hebrews 4, it is clear that there are three requirements for
    entering God‟s rest:
   o Believing
   o Listening, and
   o Obeying what God says.
   The promise of rest is activated by faith!

   „For only we who believe can enter His rest. As for the others, God said, “In My
   anger I took an oath: „They will never enter My place of rest,”‟ even though this
   rest has been ready since He made the world.‟
                                                                 Hebrews 4:3 (NLT)
   Believe is the operative word in Hebrews 4, where the issue of rest is addressed.
   The example is used of the Israelites who did not enter God‟s rest because of
   unbelief. They simply failed to honour God‟s promises above the facts and
   realities presented by the challenges in the Promised Land.
   Rest requires faith to act on what God says!
   Real faith is about listening to His voice!
   „So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God
   announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today
   when you hear His voice, don't harden your hearts.”‟
                                                              Hebrews 4:7 (NLT)
   „So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of
   Israel did, we will fall.‟
                                                                 Hebrews 4:11 (NLT)
   When we believe in God, we act on what He says. In God‟s view real faith is
   characterized by obedience. Faith is completed by works springing from what we
   believe in our hearts. Faith should be followed by acts of obedience to God‟s
   voice and His Word.
   Obedience to God confirms our faith in Him. Disobedience disqualifies our faith
   and causes us to miss out on the rest of God, just as the Israelites did.

   „So God's rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good
   news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.‟ (Emphasis added)
                                                                 Hebrews 4:6 (NLT)
   Do your best to enter His rest!
   In Hebrews 4:11 we find a paradox. It states that we should be diligent or do our
   best to enter His rest.
   It sounds as if we must put effort in to rest, but it really refers to the work of faith –
   to make every effort to keep our hearts filled with faith and to keep doubt and
   unbelief out. Rushing around anxiously like a chicken with its head chopped off is
   a sure sign of unbelief!
   Not believing and not obeying is equated to having a hard heart (Hebrews 4:7).
   A listening, believing and obedient people are a restful people.
   Time spent in quietness with God, listening to His voice or just reading and
   meditating on His Word is an investment in rest. Do it often.
   How are you doing? I encourage you to pursue believing, listening and obeying
   God with all of your heart!

3. Rest and love
    Finally, I realised that God wants me to make the connection between rest and
    God‟s eternal love quiets our hearts. It gives us security and peace.
    God‟s love has a quieting, calming effect on our lives. I counsel you to simply
    receive God‟s love and let it do its work in you. To the human heart His love says,
   „Stop worrying – I am for you and I am in control.‟ A deep rest fills the life lived in
   His love. No more striving; no more performing – only resting in His love!

4. Truths about rest
    The revelation of the great and complete work God has done to save us and to
    clean us up, leads to crucial insight. God calls us to live by the following truths:
    o   „If you want to walk with Me, slow down!‟
    o   „Rush is wrong. Resting in Me is right.‟
    o   „One of us will work and the other will rest. You decide which part you want
        to do.‟ (This does not mean God questions the validity of our day jobs. It
        applies to the place of departure – the position from where we work.)
    o   „I initiate, you follow. You initiate, I watch and wonder what you are doing.‟
        (Another example of a „back-to-front‟ principle of the Kingdom. The world
        expects people to take initiative, but in God we should be led by His Spirit in
        our every action.)

5. Are you in God’s rest?
    Are you in God‟s rest? This is not a physical place but a state of heart. From
    Hebrews 4 it is clear that this place of rest is a place of trust and faith in Christ‟s
    completed work on the Cross. If we fully believe that He has done a perfect work,
    we can rest from our own efforts! We enter His rest and live with the deep
    knowing that God‟s effort through Christ wa more than enough to give us life and
    life abundantly.
    It is a place where we cease from striving and rushing and start listening to the
    voice of the Holy Spirit. Let Him initiate. Let Him be the pace setter. Learn to
    follow at His pace and you will stay in His rest!
    Powerful, victorious results are released from this place of rest. God’s
    desire is for us to live in these!

  How about stopping before the New Year really starts?
   o Confirm your faith in Christ‟s complete work to redeem you.
   o Listen for the voice of His Spirit.
   o Let God‟s love quiet you.
   o Enter His rest so you can arise in readiness to meet all that 2011 will bring.
  God has great things ahead for you!
  The success of this year and beyond depends on resting in Him.
  Be ready – enter His rest!
  I pray that you will remain in His rest and be amazed to see the powerful things
  that flow from this place.
           Hebrews 4
3 His place of rest has been ready
 since he made the world.
4 We know it is ready because the
 Scriptures mention the seventh day,
 saying, "On the seventh day God
 rested from all His work."
        Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all
 of you who are weary and carry
 heavy burdens, and I will give you
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me
 teach you, because I am humble and
 gentle, and you will find rest for your
30 For my yoke fits perfectly, and the
 burden I give you is light."
         Hebrews 12:3
For only we who believe can enter
his place of rest. As for those who
didn't believe, God said, "In my anger
I made a vow: 'They will never enter
my place of rest
              Hebrews 4
7 So God set another time for entering his
  place of rest, and that time is today. God
  announced this through David a long
  time later in the words already quoted:
  "Today you must listen to his voice. Don't
  harden your hearts against him."
11 Let us do our best to enter that place of
  rest. For anyone who disobeys God, as
  the people of Israel did, will fall.
            Hebrews 4
6 So God's rest is there for people to
 enter. But those who formerly heard
 the Good News failed to enter
 because they disobeyed God.
           Hebrews 4
11 Let us do our best to enter that
 place of rest.