Biblical Foundations 7: Resting In Christ 2 (Galatians 6:9)
Six posts ago we began our current series—Biblical Foundations—to look at the cornerstones of this local church:
Why does God have each us attending HERE?
What is He doing in and through us within these walls and outside of these walls?
If you look back over these six posts, we have actually been going deeper into the Bible to understand what it truly means to Elevate God…to stand on His Word, to call out to Him for salvation & new life, not just an enhancement of our old lives, to humble ourselves under His mighty hand so He will point out our sins to us, to know God deeply and to rest in Him…we will continue this morning to look to the Bible to discuss what it means to rest in Jesus Christ through quiet, stillness, silence, prayer and Bible reading…
Maybe you’re thinking: “This sounds great—soul-rest from Jesus, the peace of God, being still in His presence, the joy of the Lord, etc. I really hope I can learn that someday. But what’s the big deal if I don’t learn it? Is it like leather seats in a car…nice to have, but not essential?”
Great question…let’s talk about that for a while:
We can enjoy cake without icing, but we can’t enjoy it without the flour.
Resting in God, the peace of Christ, the joy of the LORD, being still and knowing He is God, these are “flour” ingredients, not frosting ingredients for the full life that Jesus wants us to have…
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is from Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God will GUARD your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…”
Loved ones, it isn’t just NICE to have the peace of Jesus—His peace coming from being still in His presence through the Bible isn’t icing/frosting! It is essential to guard our hearts and minds from sin, from stress, from anxiety and worry! Without the peace of Christ we are football players playing on the field without pads!!!
But for the remainder of this post I want to discuss some of the holes in our gas tank, some of the ways that we leak energy each day so that we just sigh heavily at the thought of learning how to rest in Christ, so that we feel defeated at the thought of one more activity/chore/goal/responsibility like learning to be still in His presence and focus on Him through Bible reading and prayer and stillness…
“Let us not become WEARY in doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
How do we waste our energy each week? There are many things that we HAVE to spend our energy on:
-Marriage and Parenting
-Household Chores/errands, etc.
-All of these take a lot of energy, and there is no way to not do them…
But there are many other ways that we spend our time doing things that we don’t technically have to do that saps our energy, those earthly things that make us too tired for the eternal tasks—the good works!—that God the Father has prepared in advance for us to do…
When we are tired and worn out and weary we often keep doing the things that drain us and stop (or never START!) doing those things that are part of who we are as Christians, we seal off the pipes through which the soul-rest of Jesus flows!
We stop reading the Bible;
We stop praying regularly;
We stop journaling about the LORD’s actions in our lives;
We stop attending church;
We stop serving at church;
We stop being in a small group (or never START!).
We think stopping all the above is what is necessary to get our rest back and it only serves to weaken us more…
- Many have experienced that regular, physical aerobic exercise, while it does make you sweaty and sore and tired in the short run, actually gives you energy in the long run!
- But you do need to have rest days in between intense workouts; you cannot work out every day; if you do, your body will eventually get fatigued and you will burn out.
But the solution in that case is not to stop working out entirely! Going back to sitting on the couch all the time (the other extreme to working out intensely every day) will not give you MORE energy, but will take it away! The key in our exhaustion is rest days…
- When athletes don’t perform well on the field, they don’t say, “Well, I guess I should stop playing this sport.” Rather, the coaches will look at what the player does during the week outside of gameday; if they are staying up late every night partying, or even just staying up late watching t.v., that is going to affect their performance on the field! They need to get REAL REST during the week so that they have the energy for what matters on game day. Thus some teams will have curfews for their players; mandatory rest! Similarly, when we are exhausted from life, we have to look at how we are spending our time. For many, the solution is NOT to stop attending/serving at church or reading the Bible or being in a small group; it’s to make sure they get rest during the other parts of their week!
Thus, when we are exhausted from growing as a Christian, don’t stop those things that God uses to exercise and strengthen and grow your faith! Just make sure you are actually resting…
- Digesting your food actually takes a good amount of work for your body and calories to happen; that’s why we are so TIRED after a huge Thanksgiving dinner! But how silly would it be to say, “I’m burned out from life; I’m exhausted. I’m going to stop eating food for a week or month to conserve my energy. All this chewing and digesting is sapping my strength.” We would never say that! We need food to HAVE energy! But this is what we are spiritually doing when we stop or never start resting in God through prayer, Bible reading, etc…
Here’s what I mean: we often think of watching t.v. as resting. It is many things, but restful it is not! It is a distraction from life and problems, fine; I’ll give you that! But please let’s not fool ourselves by thinking that we are resting when we watch t.v.
- The average camera shot in a movie/t.v. show is 1 second…ONE SECOND! Our minds have to notice, process, translate, and experience so much stimuli every second when we watch t.v. That is anything but restful to our minds. And the more t.v. and movies that we watch in a week, the less energy we have and rest we get for what really matters in life. At the end of finals we week, students are exhausted from all the thinking! It really has been a legitimate form of hard work! Our minds are equally exhausted from all the stimuli that comes from watching an hour or two of t.v…it is a mental work out…
- When you have finals or mid-terms in school, you are utterly exhausted after such a week, even though all you did was sit studying and taking the tests! But of course you are tired–your mind has been feverishly working and so your body becomes tired…
Social media: Loved ones, do we ever consider how much energy it takes to read updates from loved ones, like them, respond to them, post updates to our own lives, read and respond to others’ responses to our updates, etc.? Do we ever think just how much energy we spend (WASTE!) on social media each week? (and this doesn’t even consider the energy we spend on posts that make us angry, on fights that we get into with people on FB, when someone makes a rude comment, etc.)? We think we are resting because we are often sitting when we surf the web, but we are surfing! We are expending much energy! Social media can be a great tool, but it is one that burns mental and emotional energy—we were never meant to stay connected with dozens and even hundreds of people per day/week…this leaves us more exhausted for the things of life that really matter. We work so hard to stay connected with human relationships but often have little left over for our relationship with Christ…remember, loving others is the SECOND greatest commandment, but it is NOT the first! The FIRST is to love GOD…to make the second greatest commandment the first is idolatry, is sin…
Following Sports: When a fan’s favorite team wins a game in overtime, what do they say? “My team just can’t keep doing this to me!” The fan is exhausted from watching the game. The fan didn’t do anything but sit there and eat calories, deposit physical energy into his/her body! Yet at the end of the game, the fan is exhausted as if they had been on the field with their team. And in a mental and emotional way, the fan HAS been on the field with their team! Following sports may be fun, but it is not restful, loved ones; it takes energy to watch and follow sports, and this combined with movies, t.v. shows and social media serve to sap our strength and energy from what really matters in life.
- Some studies caution us not to have “screen time” right before bed; computer/t.v. time makes it HARDER to sleep, harder to get the physical rest that we need! IT makes us emotionally tired but it revs up our engines so that it is difficult to get physical rest! This should tell us something, loved ones!
- In basketball, you set a screen by blocking an opponent from effectively guarding your teammate; you block another player from getting where he/she needs to be. Screen time on computers and t.v.s often do the same thing: screen time blocks us from getting to where we need to be—resting in the presence of Jesus. Jesus said COME TO ME, not go to t.v., to get rest…
- In a way we eat what we watch on t.v./the internet; it is a form of food, ideas and information for our minds. But not all foods give energy; some foods, while providing calories, provide empty calories that serve to drain energy, not give it. Reading the Bible is food, Jesus says, but it is food that gives energy. Much social media and t.v. is also food, but it is food that drains energy. It might taste good in the mouth, but it doesn’t sit well in the stomach. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to have a healthier mental/emotional/spiritual diet each day…
Let’s treat t.v./movies/social media like soda; drink it is a treat, as a sort of liquid dessert, but don’t let it be your meal, and certainly don’t drink soda to quench your thirst. It won’t and it cannot quench but will only leave you thirstier, more dehydrated for the race that Jesus has marked out for us. Same with t.v./movies/social media…it can distract us from life, but it cannot give us rest for life…
Sin: Those are some of the not-immediately sinful ways that we waste our energy each week…But SIN also is exhausting…We also get exhausted from being mad at people; unforgiveness is one of the biggest holes in the fuel tank of our souls. When you are burned out, instead of stopping Bible reading, praying, or serving at church, why not ask the LORD if there is anyone whom you haven’t forgiven, whom you are angry at (especially a politician or celebrity or family member)? Let’s stop being angry and unforgiving instead of stopping serving at church…
Coveting/being discontent/wanting what we don’t have are also ways that we get exhausted, which are scientifically documented to increase the more time we spend watching commercials and being on Facebook! “Keeping up with the Jones’s” requires much activity and energy to keep up with them and their pace of life, the stuff of their life, etc.!
Not confessing our sin is exhausting—Look at Psalm 32—BEFORE confessing his sin the psalm-writer was in AGONY! God’s hand was only heavy for as long as the psalm-writer blamed others for his sin, justified his sin in his mind/heart, or just ignored it (e.g. turned on the t.v. to take his mind off his sin). After confessing to God, the psalm-writer was forgiven, was full of joy and praise to God! He got some REST after confessing and being forgiven! Which do you prefer: the before or after in this psalm? God is inviting us to the AFTER!
Oh loved ones, I hope this is helping all of us see that we DO have time, we DO have enough energy to invest time to learn from Jesus how to be still in His presence, how to receive the soul-rest that ONLY HE can truly give us…and we don’t need to stop doing those amazing Christian exercises in order to rest more…through Christ we have a big enough gas tank to be who He made us to be and to do what He made us to do, but we have to patch up the holes in the gas tank and make sure we are putting in His 93 octane fuel and not the sugar of the culture…
But you might be thinking, “Fine. I hear you. But why are we talking about this in church? This isn’t a spiritual issue, it’s a practical time-management issue.”
Great question, and great point! My friends, this is absolutely a spiritual issue, it is so much more than time-management…how do I know this? Two main reasons:
- First, remember the passage we looked at in the last post in Luke 8, the passage about the woman who was bleeding for twelve years and had tried every cultural cure imaginable? Eventually she sought out Jesus and she had to fight through the crowd, fight through her tiredness, pain, ALL the roadblocks that were keeping her from Jesus. But her main issue wasn’t just a practical one, her main roadblock wasn’t just that she was physically trying to get through all the people…her main issue was a spiritual one.
- What did Jesus say after she touched Him, after she fought through the crowd to get to Him? “Your FAITH has healed you”! Getting through the roadblocks to Jesus was a FAITH issue at its core! The same is true with us fighting through our schedules, our sinfulness, our sloth-ness, our sports, to invest time BEING with Jesus…it’s about faith, not our season of life…
- Secondly, think about this: We get exhausted and burnt out from life, but why do we often think first of stopping Bible reading, church attending, small grouping, and serving at church (or never starting them)? Why don’t we ever think to cut out social media for a month, sports for a season, watching our favorite t.v. shows, going out with friends on Friday nights, etc.? People rarely do the latter, but we are often quick to do the former, to cut out time with the LORD…WHY? Because this is spiritual war, my friends, plain and simple. How we spend our time IS spiritual, loved ones, and the devil knows this! Our check book and our calendars are terrifyingly accurate reflections of our priorities, of what is important to us. If we say we are Christians and love the LORD, do our bank statements and calendars give evidence for that? So if the devil can’t scare us with a pitchfork and horns from being with Jesus, he will distract us with internet and t.v. from being with Jesus. Two VERY different methods/strategies, one same result in the end…
So not only do we need to START doing those activities with Jesus that brings us His rest, we also need to learn to STOP doing those earthly activities that leak our fuel and stall us on the side of the road from the eternal activities that God the Father has prepared in advance for us to do…
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation: the spirit is willing but the body [flesh] is weak” (Jesus—Matthew 26:41).
Loves ones, there is no reason for us to have a lack of worship musicians or any other volunteers at this local church. MANY serve sacrificially—over 50% of Elevate attenders serve here!—and what a blessing they all are! But there are many who don’t serve, and it makes the other volunteers work that much harder. I believe that most people who don’t serve actually want to, but they are tired, they are exhausted—their spirits are willing but their bodies are weak. But the solution is not to NOT serve but to cut out some of those other earthly activities that sap us of our strength!
God has prepared good works in advance for us to do…what are those good works? Do we think that serving once per month for a few hours at church falls into that category of what God has prepare for us? Or do we think God has prepared us for the dozens of hours every week that we invest in t.v., social media, sports, etc.? What is earthly, and what is eternal? Did Jesus die and give us new life to be connected with the culture, or to be connected with Christ and His Church?
This is why the Bible says to “Fix our eyes on Jesus” so that we can “run the race He has marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1-2); when our eyes are fixed on anything else our ability to run His race will sputter and stall…
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”
The race includes being with Him, praying, being still and silent, reading Scripture, serving at church, being in a small group, etc. RESTING in Jesus is part of the race of Jesus! 🙂
But if we aren’t fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can’t run His race—we will get exhausted and burnt out and eventually DROP OUT…
Thus that passage in Hebrews says to fix our eyes on Jesus and “throw off EVERYTHING that hinders us” as well as getting out of “the sin that so easily entangles us.” There are sinful things that stop us from running Jesus’ race and there are non-sinful things that hinder us from running His race—both are important to get rid of!!! If this was true for Christians 2k years ago, how much more true are these verses for Christians today!!!???
Finally, we get exhausted when we do good things for the LORD but forget WHY we do them and WHAT we are actually doing when we do them:
Romans 12:1: “In view of God’s mercy…”
I don’t know anyone who mows their lawn or tends to a garden at midnight; no you do those things in the day time, IN VIEW of the sun that shines everywhere and gives light and warmth to every corner of the garden or lawn…
Similarly, we children of God who have received Jesus as our Savior, weserve the LORD and follow Jesus in view of God’s mercy, constantly remembering what He has done for us on the cross, constantly remembering that He has pardoned us and set us free from the spiritual Death Row of our sin, where we were waiting for our execution day. The mercy and grace and love of God—and thus the terribleness of our sin—must be constantly in our view, in our attention, lighting up every corner of our daily lives. We read the Bible, pray, worship God, serve Him and serve others, tithe, etc. always in view of the mercy of God, always in view of what He has done for us! This gives us energy and strength to be with Him, and to give up certain other activities so that we have time and energy to be with Him.
- Again, if your hand gets tired writing out a long thank you note to someone who donated one of their kidneys to you so that you could live and not die, it would be helpful to write that thank you note IN VIEW of the amazing sacrifice and love and gift of that person; that helps give us the energy and strength to keep writing that thank you note! But if we get distracted from what they have done for us and begin to forget, well of course we will lose motivation for writing such a note, especially when we get a cramp in our hands!
- Similarly, when we get tired of reading the Bible, praying, learning to sit in silence and stillness with God, serving at church, etc., we must fight to stay in view of the mercy of God, what He has done for us on the cross, the terrible price He paid to offer us forgiveness, new life, and adoption into His family…only when we constantly focus on God’s mercy on a daily basis will we have the fuel needed to do what He commands us to do…
Romans 12:1: “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices…”
It IS a sacrifice to being with Jesus in stillness, in prayer, to quiet down, to be in a small group, to serve at church, etc. These things aren’t often EASY because they really are a sacrifice, but they are SO WORTH THE SACRIFICE!!! 🙂
Romans 12:1: “…this is your spiritual act of worship…”
WOW! As we learn to invest the time God has given us in the ways that God commands us, we are spiritually worshipping God! Does that change the way you look at Bible reading, prayer, small group, tithing, serving at church? It’s worship to the LORD!!! It’s so much more than just WORK, it’s WORSHIP, an intimate act between God and His people!
And this gives us strength and energy and fuel to keep offering our bodies to the LORD even when we don’t see the results, even when we can’t see the difference that our sacrifices make—we aren’t primarily doing these things for the results, we are doing them to worship God for His amazing love and grace and mercy!
And so we can keep reading the Bible,
We can keep praying,
We can keep serving,
We can keep loving & forgiving that friend/family member
Even if nothing is changing in our situation/lives because the results are secondary but worshipping God is the first main reason for doing those things!!!
But when we do things for God, even good things, without remembering or realizing that it is worship to the LORD and when do those things NOT in view of God’s mercy, in view of all He has done for us, well then of course our energy saps, empties, runs out—like trying to do a project on the internet with a dial-up/super slow internet connection…it’s frustrating, difficult, and eventually you just quit! When we aren’t learning to be intimate with God and BE with Him, it makes our connection with God sluggish which makes it harder for us to serve Him, to be with Him, to follow Christ and carry our cross each day! We want to just QUIT! The more computers you have logged into WIFI the slower the connection will be!
Now you might say, “Wow. This Christianity thing really takes a lot. To really know the LORD and grow isn’t going to happen as a hobby, is it?”
Exactly! God is not the God of “half-measures”, “some,” or a “little bit.” He is the God of ALL…
John 3:16: He gave ALL of His Son Jesus for us, not just a portion of Him…
Psalm 103:2-3: He wants to forgive ALL our sins…
Matthew 22:36-40: The first & greatest commandment is to love God with ALL our hearts, ALL our minds, ALL our strength, etc…
Romans 8:32: will not God also, along with Jesus, give us ALL good things to be who He made us to be and do what He made us to do?
God gives ALL of Himself, and as we are re-born and transformed through faith in His Son He will teach us how to give ALL of ourselves as well—this is part of what it means to be made in the image of God…THIS is foundational to this local church, this is a CORNERSTONE of what God is doing in and through this local church!