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ENCOURAGED STRONGLY TO ENTER INTO GOD'S REST

Rest is one of the greatest gifts God gave to mankind. Rest is synonymous to peace. Naturally, we associate rest with sleep. When we are so tied, we think of sleeping and resting. After that, we are refreshed and energized to move out again. We feel good and happy. This is not God's rest I want to talk about here. You ask what is God's rest? God 's rest is deep and profound. It supersedes the rest derived when we are physically tied or sleepy or worn out from each day's labor; when we have worked so hard. What does it mean God's rest? What does it signify? We shall study the book of Hebrews 3&4 for this study.

* Meaning of Rest:

The Hebrew word for rest is nuach-to rest, to be quiet. Sometimes, it is synonymous to shabat- to cease or to rest.

The Greek word for rest is anapausis meaning cessation, refreshment. Christ's rest is not a rest from work, but in work, not the rest of activity, but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections, of will, heart, imagination, conscience- because each has found in God the ideal sphere of its satisfaction and development.
(Vines concise dictionary).

The dictionary word for rest:

1 quiet
2 calmness
3 tranquility
4 peacefulness
5 serenity
6 stability

* Hindrances to Entering into God's Rest & What It Means to
Cease from Your Works:

1 Lack of faith in God's word, rejection and unbelief in His word.
2 Lack of knowledge to God's word.
3 Unbelief in departing from the living God.
4 Hardening of heart through the deceitfulness of sin.
5 When we stop depending on our own wisdom, intelligence and manipulation of events in whatever we do, and rely wholly on the Lord.
6 When we cease from our arrogance to think we are something, and learn to give God the glory in everything that we do; for without Him, we can do nothing and we are nothing.
7 When we cease to fret and worry and learn to relax and rest-our mind at peace, peaceful and calm knowing God is in control. His will must be done in our lives. We serve a living God who promised “never to leave us or forsake us:” “who also said: “no good thing will He deny those who walk uprightly.” 'Those who trust Him are not put to shame.'
8 It is to accept the “grace” given by God to live the Christian life and principles only through faith. It is not our righteousness. It is what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we believe it, we become righteous through faith, not by struggling to be perfect or holy or be good. You can never be holy or perfect by struggling or trying. You will fail miserably. It is only when you believe God's word through faith, you enter into God's rest and you cease from your struggles to be perfect; and follow your own selfwill.

Until you cease from your labor or works, struggles and trying to allow the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life in you, then the battle to be holy stops. Then your rest comes- you rest while the Holy Spirit fights for you. You only have to believe this in faith what the word of God says. Relax and give up your struggles and the the fight to be holy, and the Holy Spirit will give you the power to overcome, not in your own strength. At that point, you cease from your works, plots and schemes to exert your own ways. You give way to accept the will of God in your life directed by the Holy Spirit. Then you listen to Him to direct you in wisdom in your daily life and destiny. Then you begin to relax and have peace. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God living in you to enable the believer live the christian life. Without the Holy Spirit, we can't do anything and can't live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit gives you wisdom to understand the Word of God.

* What Is the Spiritual Significance of God's Rest:

The believer is strongly encouraged to enter into God's rest. Hebrew 4: 1-3 says:

“Let us therefore fear; lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached , as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into His rest.”

What does God's rest signify spiritually? The rest talked about here is deep and profound. It is that which sums up the end game of our existence on earth, and how we can live in peace and rest, despite being poor or rich. It is peaceful existence that enhances and enriches your life here on earth, and when over on earth continues in the hereafter. This is a promise God has given to humanity. The Scripture reminds us that it is about obedience to God's word. Those who heard it in the wilderness perished because they did not believe the word of God. They did not have faith in it. They rejected it through unbelief and lack of faith. They were destroyed in the wilderness and could not enter into that rest which is the promised land. Many are still perishing today because they will not accept God's word that will save and heal them. We are warned not to be like this people for God's word is real. What is God's rest?

1 The rest God is talking about is not rest from your daily work or physically exhausted when you have worked hard. It is that profound peace that God gives to those who love and obey Him regardless of circumstances. It is peace that involves the whole faculty as the Bible Dictionary stipulates. It is a profound peace that does not affect whether you are rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, black or white. It is a rest that heals and makes you whole. Rest and peace are synonymous. I will use both words here. It is a rest that calms your fears and gives you a sense of stability to face the future with confidence, regardless of what is happening around you.

2 It is a kind of peace that allows you to be in a state of rest at all times – trials or joyful times because you are trusting the Lord. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stead on thee: because he trusted on thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord JEHOVER is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3&4. Not only being at rest, but also renewed in your inner life because God says: “my grace is sufficient for you.” Even when extremely tied, the Holy Spirit gives you strength-”I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength.” Somehow, you find the grace to do the impossible in your life.

3 It is a life style that enables the believer not rattled by any circumstances of life. You know all things are working for good to those who love the Lord. The believer lives by faith and the just shall live by faith. The Scripture says: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Psalm 37:23

4 This rest is the opposite of "akatastatos"- meaning unstable and restless in Greek. It is someone always scheming, plotting; very unstable and restless to do their own thing in their own wisdom, for their own glory. God is not glorified in their lives. They boast about who they are and what they have achieved, forgetting without God, they will be nothing. The one trusting the Lord has peace knowing God is control. He or she is in a state of rest and tranquility knowing 'no weapon formed against them shall prosper and 'He in them the Holy Spirit- the Third Person of the Trinity is greater than the evil one.'

5 Remember rest and peace are interchangeable in this blog. Let me illustrate the kind of rest or peace I am talking about here. Madam Guyon, author of “Her Sole Crime Was That Of Loving God,” was a French godly and rich woman unjustly imprisoned by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. They deprived her of everything -material possession and she suffered so much. Despite all these, she was still at peace and joyful- her mind and body at rest. This is what she said in her prison cell:

“I shall not speak of that long persecution, which had made so much noise, for series of ten years imprisonments, in all sorts of prisons, and of a banishment almost as long , and not yet ended through crosses, calumnies, imaginable sorts of sufferings. While I was prisoner at Vincenes and Monssieur De La Reine examined me.. I passed my time in great peace, content to pass the rest of my life there, if such were the will of God. I sang songs of joy, which the maid who served me learned by heart, as fast as I made them. We together sang thy praises, O my God. The stones of my prison looked in my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which Thou givest to them who love Thee in the midst of there greatest crosses.” This kind of peace or rest does not emanate on bases of material opulence, or fame, or political ingenuity, or intellectual acumen, or other things that exalt humans. This kind of peace and rest can only come from a supernatural and divine God, who only can give this kind of rest through obedience to His word and love for Him through faith.

* Encouraged Strongly to Enter into God's Rest:

The rest the believer is encouraged to seek is that peace and tranquility that enables you to enjoy the labors of your life. It is that life style that allows you to love and obey God as you strive materially here on earth. The Scripture asks: 'What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul? What shall a man or woman give in exchange to their soul?'

So while you are still living, seek this rest that God promised through faith. Why?

1 God promised that to the believer and is one of the greatest of the “Riches of God's Grace,” rest or peace.' Without peace and rest in your life, you can't achieve anything, and your mind will remain restless and unstable; despite your material opulence. You will always feel there is something missing in your life. St Augustine said: "God has made us unto Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God." That is when we have this rest. Not until then.

2 This rest also means you don't labor anymore to please God. The Holy Spirit enables you and gives you power to live for the Lord the life He requires from the believer, or those who are seeking desperately to love and obey Him.

3 Why should you seek this rest? This is because the word of God is true and real and powerful- described as “two edged sword , piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” There is no pretense about God's word. “The word of God stands forever.” The word of God warns God is watching and recording what we are doing, both in secret and in public. Other thing in life will fade off. The Scripture says: “For all that is in this world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. 1 John 2:16&17 These material things of life will pass away someday, but God's word remains forever. God's word is the truth, and those who don't have God's rest through faith, or believe the word of God will not inherit eternal life. It is irrelevant whether we believe this or not. Our intellectual argument someday will not matter.

4 We are warned to pursue God, truth and His word because these are the greatest realities in life. “Neither is there any creature not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of whom with him we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13 God sees everything we do and nobody is hidden before God. We have to be careful how we live because God will bring us to judgment and accountability someday. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro beholding the wickedness of men." God is watching us and will reward evil and wickedness someday.

5 We are encouraged not to allow the struggles of life to deprive us of the rich knowledge of God. God understands our struggles, it doesn't matter what those struggles are: you don't have a job, you don't have a child, you are sick and dying, your children are not doing well, you have no money to raise them or educate them, your only child is dead, etc. God understands and has promised never to leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 The Scriptures encourages us with these words:

“For we have not an high Priest which cannot be torched with the feeling of our infirmities. But was in all point tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy , and find grace to help in times of need.”

God says don't allow the struggles of life to rob you of a greater glory of living with me someday. Though the struggles of life are sometimes menacing, fierce and daunting, He will never forsake the believe who puts his or her trust in the Lord. The Lord understands your struggles because he has being there. He encourages us to come to Him in times of confusion and complexities of life. His compassion and grace will enable you rise above the circumstances of life. This is true and I can attest to God's grace, faithfulness and deep compassion. God is real. He says come to me boldly, not in fear. He is your father, friend and everything.

* Final Rest:

There is also our final rest when our labors are ended in this life for the people of God. Then we go back to God and are ushered into His presence for our final rest. Revelation 21:4 says:

“And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes and they shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be anymore pain; for the former things are passed away.”

The greatest possession we shall seek in our entire lives is “God's Rest which is synonymous to Peace. Look at our world and how restless, fearful and unstable it is. It is the result of lack of this rest or peace. We have leaders who profess all kinds of faith: Moslim faith, Christianity, Judaism, etc, but their lives don't show it at all. They plunge their people and subjects into wars and fail to pursue progressive ideas to lift their nations up. They pursue greedy and arrogant ways that have destroyed their nations and many nations. Should these leaders seek the way of God's rest and peace, our world will be more of a peaceful place- whether it is Western Nations or Third world Nations.

It is not about guns and bombs that will save nations of the world, but about obedience and love to God's word; putting faith in it to understand God's rest so you can understand it and pass it to others; practicing compassion like Jesus and helping the poor; It is the way of prayer- coming to the throne of grace to ask God for mercy for our nation and the world: not the way of wars and bombs, that will save this world. Let us seek sincerely to understand God's rest and implement it in our lives. Our lives will be more joyful if we do.

When We Possess God's Rest:

It eases the pain we bear daily because we enter into God's rest
It refreshes and relaxes our minds and bodies
We are able to lay down in peace, instead of torn by inner struggles
We are able to operate our lives in peace and achieve our vision and goals
Our minds are calm and restful, not rattled by anything

because

We have God's rest
We have God's peace

Rev. Uche Ikpa

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