As we celebrate Christmas this month, I’ve been thinking about a word so many people need: REST. God saw the UNREST in the world 2000 years ago, and He sent Jesus. He saw the UNREST in people’s souls, so He sent Jesus. He saw the UNREST in people’s families and relationships, so He sent Jesus.
Jesus said, Come to Me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you REST—Matthew 11:28.
Unfortunately, people are experiencing more STRESS than REST.
He went on to say that REST starts in our SOUL. “ . . . Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”—Matthew 11:29.
The problem is most of us read this verse like a greeting card, as if it’s an invitation to retirement. But that is NOT the case! What this is really about is our souls are tired, deep down we are mentally burned out, emotionally drained. And God wants our souls to have rest, real rest.
If you’re like me, you’ve failed at times, struggled at times. And it’s easy to get tired from the struggle. Here’s the thing . . . “work” is not what makes us tired. One person can go to work every day and feel invigorated, inspired, full of passion. And at the same time another person can go to the same job, on the same day, and feel utterly fatigued and burned out. What’s the difference? The difference is not the physical work they perform, the difference is what they believe. What determines whether we are going to have REST or STRESS is not the time of year it is, not our jobs, not our families . . . it’s what we believe. It’s how we think.
Spiritual warfare is not the battle to defeat the enemy. The devil is already defeated. Spiritual warfare is resisting the thoughts that try to tell us we have to still work and fight in order TO defeat the enemy. That’s what wears us out and wears us down and we become fatigued and stressed. When we believe in the finished work of the cross, we begin to find rest. Hebrews 4:3 says: “For we who have believed do enter that rest . . . ”
So how do we get to the place we’re we are believing right and experiencing the true rest that God invites us to? First, we have to understand a little chemistry.
There are two chemicals in our brain that cause feelings of pleasure and rest: dopamine and serotonin. The real source—the original source—of these chemicals is not the drugs that most people use in today’s world to release them at an enhanced level. The real source of our dopamine and serotonin is the presence of God.
It all started in the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned (they stopped believing what God said), they became separated from God. And as soon as they became separated from God, they became separated from the chemistry that creates the joy, peace & rest that they were created to live in.
Just like oxygen, we NEED the presence of God in order to release the right chemicals (dopamine + serotonin) that make us feel love, happiness and ultimate peace. We need to “get high” . . . on God. As cheesy as that sounds, that is what we were created for. And His presence is the key.
Psalm 16:11 — “In Your presence there is fullness of Joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
And you are IN His presence NOW by the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 10:19 says we have access to the holiest place, through the blood of Jesus.
Once we realize that we are in His presence without striving, without effort and without fear, joy comes.
And if we who believe, do enter into that rest, what are the things we should continue to believe that will bring us into a continual place of rest?
1. Believe it is finished (John 19:30)
Jesus did it all! When Jesus shed His blood and breathed His last, the price was paid! He paid for your sin, sickness and the curse of the law. You don’t have to live with the hand you were dealt. You are redeemed!
2. Believe God is your source (Philippians 4:19)
When you know God is your source, you are at peace. When Adam Eve knew God was their source, they still worked and tended to creation, but they didn’t work to have peace. They just had peace because they knew God was their source
3. Believe He is watching over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12)
We don’t have to perform to get God to keep His promise. He said He’s watching over His word to perform it. He’s not watching over your works or your behavior, He is watching over His WORD. Stop reminding Him of your behavior, and start reminding Him of His promises. You’re not the performer. He’s the performer. We simply get to come to the show. We get to “Stand and see the salvation of our God!” (Exodus 14:13) We get to have front row seats and receive ALL of God’s great promises.
When you believe these three things, joy and peace will flow in your life like a river.
Rest in these amazing truths!