Sermon: Readiness from Rest Date: 9 January 2011 – Morning service Preacher: Pastor Francois van Niekerk Introduction 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 ability. 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 love! 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! Conclusion 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 rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 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.