Traditionally, during the months of November and December, some people complain a lot about being worn out, tired, stressed and/or overwhelmed. Let’s face it… there is a lot to do!! I believe this year can be a different holiday season for each of us as we choose to apply faith regarding true rest.
I used to think rest just meant sneaking in a cat nap on an otherwise fully scheduled day; or even heading to bed a little earlier than normal. While quality sleep is a must, there is a broader definition of rest. Honestly, for me, I felt like taking a nap was “wasting time”. Perhaps you find it easy to take a nap or head to bed early. Or perhaps you are like me and push through when it seems there are things to do.
God never intended for us to live a stressed out, rest-deprived life. John 10:10 in the New Living Translation says, “The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Jesus came so we could not only have life, but also enjoy it! If we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed, we really are not enjoying life.
The first part of Isaiah 14:3 (KJV) discusses rest. “And it shall come to pass in the day, that the LORD shall give thee rest…” Here the Hebrew translation of the word rest is to give comfort, to cease from, to be quiet and remain. The idea is that when we walk in true rest, we cease from doing that which is preventing us from resting. Within this definition a change in what we are doing can bring rest. Note that this may not always mean sleeping, but rather a change or cessation of what one is doing or a direction one is going.
In the New Testament, Matthew 11:28 gives a great picture of rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here the word rest translates as a refreshing. Some people think that God will just immediately give them rest. Well the next verse gives us some more direction: Matthew 11:29 (KJV), “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
As we learn to walk in the way He directs, we will find true rest. For example, God may tell us not to commit to an event three months down the road when we are going to need to be free then. Or He may tell us to take an afternoon off from our normal schedule. When He leads us to say no to a commitment or opportunity, He is helping us find that refreshing. When we learn of Him, and follow His guiding, we will consistently find true rest.
So, when we are following His leading, we can find true refreshing for our lives! I love the way this verse in Matthew is laid out in The Message Bible. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (MSG)
That real rest is what I am endeavoring to walk in everyday. While events, responsibilities, holiday duties could cause any of to feel overwhelmed and worn out, we can walk in real rest when we learn to trust Him with our schedule! He will lead us and guide us.
On the natural side it is also important to remember that each of us refresh and refuel in different ways. For example, when looking at personality strengths, someone with a dominant approach usually find that refreshing is doing something. This can truly provide rest if it is doing something different than normal. Like the Hebrew definition revealed, rest can be found when one ceases from the direction he or she is going. On the other hand, a person with a strong interpersonal personality finds himself or herself refueled and refreshed when spending time with others. Ways to truly rest are endless!
Still think you can’t walk in real rest because of your lifestyle? Consider the following:
1. Perhaps your natural schedule needs to change.
2. Are you trusting God to lead and guide you everyday?
3. Are you trusting Him to provide true refreshing for you?
4. Are you spending time in His presence daily?
Let’s endeavor to apply our faith to this part of our lives. Let’s head into the holiday season and the new year trusting God to guide us and to show us how to find real rest in Him. Let’s recognize when we are trying to function solely in our own strength and let’s change that and fully rely on God for direction, strength and rest. Let’s make sure we are daily in His presence and seeking His face as we grow in this area of life.
Pray this prayer with me:
Thank You Lord, for showing me Your desire for me to daily find real rest. Thank You Lord, for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me so that I can have and enjoy life. Father forgive me for trying to do things on my own. I will endeavor to learn Your unforced rhythms of living and walking out my life. I will trust You to show me how to find real rest. Thank You Lord for Your supernatural strength to live life.
Isaiah 14:3a (KJV)
And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest…
Matthew 11:28-30 (Amp)
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST (renewal, blessed quiet) FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30 ( The Message)
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
“What you believe about yourself determines how you live”
These words echo in my ears still to this day. God spoke these words to me about 3 to 4 years ago before I started Bible College. At the time, I was a Christian who did my best to live right, yet I still fell short in many areas. My struggle with sin was “a battle” in my mind. I felt terrible about myself. I felt like a hypocrite every day when I woke up. I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I knew I was supposed to be better, but for whatever reason I could never meet that standard I had for myself.
Many of you may also feel this way. You know that God calls you to a higher standard. You know you shouldn’t sin, yet you keep finding yourself repeating the same habits. Like me you’ll find yourself with a guilty heart when you go to church. You’ll feel terrible about yourself.
The good news is that you can completely change this area of your life by simply changing what you believe about yourself.
Many of you have heard “Well we all sin and fall short. We all make mistakes. We all mess up. Nobody is perfect”. These sayings are so common yet none of them encourage us to be what God has made us to be.
The Bible does not teach that you are a mistake waiting to happen. The Bible does not teach that you are just a “sinner saved by grace”. The Bible teaches the opposite. You are completely DEAD to sin. You are no longer a sinner. You are not a mistake waiting to happen. You are not always going to fall short.
Scripture is STRONG on this subject. God began to lead me into this truth and it has completely changed my life. He showed me that what I believe about myself determines how I live my life. If I wake up and believe that “I am just a sinner saved by grace” I am still that sinner. I am still going to mess up. And I will use the saying “Well nobody is perfect” to keep me where I am at, instead of living in what God made me to be — holy, flawless, righteous, perfect in His sight.
Let’s take a look and see what scripture has to say about it. Pay close attention to the bold words.
Romans 6:1-2 HCSB
“What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Romans 6:6 TPT
“Could it be any clearer that our former identity is now and forever deprived of its power? For we were co-crucified with him to dismantle the stronghold of sin within us, SO THAT WE WOULD NOT CONTINUE TO LIVE ONE MOMENT LONGER SUBMITTED TO SIN’S POWER.
Romans 6:12 & 14 TPT
“Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings”
“Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God.”
Romans 6:10-11 TPT
10 For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure. 11 So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.
Romans 6:22-23 TPT
“22 But now, as God’s loving servants, you live in joyous freedom from the power of sin. So consider the benefits you now enjoy—you are brought deeper into the experience of true holiness that ends with eternal life! 23 For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Could it be any clearer? We are not sinners. You are not going to always mess up. Remember, how can you who died to sin still live in it, Free from sin, dead to sin.
God kept me in Romans 6 for almost 2 years. Think He was trying to get something across to me? Every time I would open my Bible I would eventually be drawn back to Romans 6.
See before, I never saw myself as completely flawless. I didn’t believe I was holy. I didn’t “view myself as dead to sin”. I didn’t know this truth. I thought by my actions, I had to live up to being flawless. All this did was put me in an endless cycle of struggle.
If you change what you believe about yourself you too can live completely free from sin. Free from its stain, its guilt, its unhealthy effects, its claims, and any ugly thing that comes with it.
Some of you deep down know you are called to be more, but you keep going back down the same road. You know better, yet there you are again. You find out what my cousin Josh says, “that the moment is never enough”. You are hiding it from people, but you are miserable. You go out on the weekends, and make it to church because you feel bad about yourself. You get mad and think people are judging you when the whole time its your own heart and conscience. God is there the whole time trying to lead you into this truth. You are dead to sin. Change what you believe about yourself and you can live free from it all. You NEVER have to sin again. And yes I mean never. One of my favorite things I have learned in this truth is that I never have to think about sin again. It doesn’t have any power over me. It’s a dethroned monarch. And I never have to fall into its trap again.
I am not saying you will never mess up. Many times while I have been learning this truth, I fell. God showed me that is not who I am though. 1 John 1:9 says if I fall, He is faithful to cleanse me of it all and show me who I really am.
The powerful and freeing truth is that once I view myself as free from sin, I don’t think about messing up, I think about pleasing God. I am no longer struggling to do right, I believe that God has made me right, therefore I do right. I don’t think about “well what if I….”. I think about how He has made me completely righteous, and that when I believe that, the byproduct is holiness (Romans 5).
If you can change what you believe about yourself, you will change how you live. Jesus didn’t have an easy life. The Bible says He was tempted in all the same ways you and I were, yet He never sinned. How was that possible? Because He believed in who God made Him to be. If you want to do the same, be like Jesus. Believe that God has freed you from sin, and you never have to fail again.
Below is a free mediation tool for you to use. Try it out during your devotion time.
I am not broken,
“ Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored,”
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things[k] have come.
There is a phenomenon in our society today to focus on the brokenness of man, and mans need for God. While this is true, Jesus didn’t die so that we would stay broken. In fact, because of Jesus, we are no longer broken. We are restored. All it takes to restore the brokenness of man is faith in Jesus. Once you believe in Him, all that brokenness, failure and sin is completely done away with, and you are whole and complete. You can now live a life fulfilled because Jesus has made you whole.
Father, today I thank you that because of Jesus I am no longer broken. I am completely restored because of Him. All that you made me to be I can live in, no longer striving and straining to repair myself. You made me whole. I am repaired. I am restored.
One of the greatest revelations that I have ever received is that it’s not about me. I know that much of the Bible talks about what God has done for me through the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating of Jesus at the right of hand of God. But, once I have received what Jesus has done for me and have been born again, making me a child of God, life is no longer about me.
The struggle to be and to obtain is the way of the world. The constant scheming and positioning for status and power consumes the world and many Christians.
We have a great example of this in the gospel of Matthew. As recorded in Matthew 20:20-28, James and John brought their mother to Jesus to ask for special important places in His coming kingdom.
Matthew 20:20-21 ESV Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. (21) And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."
When the other 10 disciples heard about this request they were furious. Why? Maybe they were wanting the same positions? Maybe this type of one-upmanship was common among these where on the ministry staff of the Lord Jesus? Regardless of the reason, the Scripture points out that they were moved in their emotions over this incident.
Jesus is quick to call them together for a staff meeting and to refocus them on how He lived and ministered.
Matthew 20:25 (ESV) But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.”
Here we see His observation on how the world separated from God’s way, Gentiles, operates. The world lords over and exercises authority over others. The reason they do this is to maintain their status and position. It is a selfish type of life.
We have seen this way of life increase in our society. The “Me Generation” espoused the philosophy of you’ve got to take care of number one, you, above all else. At its root is the belief that no else cares for me. With that belief in place each one must do whatever is necessary to others to get what they need no matter what it costs. But Jesus has a different and better way.
Matthew 20:26-28 (MKJV) However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. (27) And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant; (28) even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Status power, and greatness, in the God’s Kingdom is accomplished by serving others. Greatness is not how many people serve you. The greatest person who has ever walked this earth, lived the God kind of life and served others. He did not demand others serve him. His life and ministry were not about Him. He came to give His life, not enhance His life. He came to lift others, not be lifted.
In the margin of my Bible, I have been writing the phrase “Not About Me” next to verses that help me live a life of serving. I am determined to live this life the way God intended me to live it. I am finding the more I make it about others the more my needs are met through my union with Him. My desire for status and power are satisfied by the Well of Living Water that is in me that quenches every personal thirst that I have.
Here are a few of those scripture references. Let these help you in your selfless life. I have made bold the portion of the verse that applies to “Not About Me.”
Mark 3:14 (ESV) And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.
Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 13:10 (ESV) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 15:1-2 (ESV) We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV) For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV) Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:33 (ESV)Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV) And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Galatians 5:13 (ESV) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (2) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
These are just a few of the many verses that have helped me. Start with these if you want, but I encourage you to make your own list. Keep this in the forefront of your thinking and let the Holy Spirit lead you to verses you need.
Remember, its “Not About Me!”