Tuesday, August 08, 2006


"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." Matthew 11:28-30.

Why do we struggle so with finding rest in this world? Is it because we are so much busier today than at any other time in history? I doubt it. Sure, we may seem busier today, but if you take away our technologies of convenience and speed, putting us back on our feet to walk everywhere, forcing us to work more with our hands to cultivate our food and make whatever we need to live, you suddenly realize that people of the past were just as busy as we are, if not more, but they simply had to do different things to occupy their daily lives than we do. If anything, we are less busy today, more bored, and occupy our time with things that have more potential for harm. You would think with all of our leisure time we would be more rested than any generation in history; instead, we are suffering from a myriad of mental and emotional illnesses while seeking any and every thing to entertain ourselves.

Hebrews 3 and 4 make it clear why we fail to rest. In verse 19 of chapter 3 it says "they were not able to enter [his rest] because of their unbelief." Because the generation of Israelites who left Egypt's slavery failed to believe God's promises, they wandered in the desert for 40 years and were not granted access to his rest in the promised land because of their unbelief. This factual history also is a great word picture of the spiritual reality that when we doubt God we cannot enter into His rest as described above in Matthew 11 by Jesus.
What are some examples of things God has promised us?
2 Peter 1:3-4: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28-39: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
James 1:2-8: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
The question you must ask yourself is whether you really believe these promises (and the many more throughout God's word). If it seems you aren't living the life described by God in the above passages, then you must ask why. The Word of God is living and active, penetrating through your very soul, able to judge the thoughts and attitudes of your heart. Hebrews 4:11-12. Let it work through you. Pray as David did "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24. If you doubt at all, you are a double-minded man. And, what does that mean?? You are unstable, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and will not be able to rest. You are schizophrenic (literally have a "split mind"). And, interestingly, what happens to schizophrenics is that they become more and more consumed with... themselves.
I've written a long post, but God's word sums it up amazingly in two little verses many young Christians memorize early on:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart [not just some or most of it] and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths [or will make your paths straight/level]." Proverbs 3:5-6.
If you are interpreting scripture based on your life experience rather than simply believing that God is who He says He is; that is, if you are leaning on your own understanding and experience rather than believing His promises, expect to have an anxious heart that seems unable to rest. As you find yourself needing that "drug" of choice, whatever it is, that is less than the meat of His word, the truth of His spirit, and the power of His gospel, ask God to search your heart with the sword of His word to see if there is any offensive way in you.

1 comment:

Paul Burleson said...

Bryan, Great post and the pictures in the previous one are tremendous. You are a blessed man and let us know by e-mail about your schedule the next few months.

Singing in the Reign

Paul B.