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The Grace Project

Striving For The Rest

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One of the most important questions that we will ever have to answer in our own hearts is this: why do Christians find it so difficult to rest?  
The short answer to that question is; Christians believe in God, but we don't truly believe God, and specifically we don't believe that God has done through his Son Jesus what he says he has done?!?!  
Let's take a moment to reflect on what the writer to the Hebrews said in the fourth chapter.  
1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.   According to the writer there is one thing that we must work towards and that is the goal of rest: it is not until we rest that we can enter into the REST of the Gospel - this rest is a putting to rest - laying down things that you have been carrying, a death perhaps.  And this is evidently no small matter because the readers are told to be afraid lest they should fail to enter into this rest.  Now I gotta tell you the word used for  'fear' here is a strong word and I don't think that we are meant to read it as being hyperbole, so serious is the writer he says you ought to be terrified, struck with fear, to be seized with alarm lest you should fail to enter into his rest.  
Take a minute to let that thought soak in - The word of the Lord for you and I is strive (1. attempt by employing effort or 2. to exert much effort or energy)  to rest.   2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.   3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, As I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter my rest, although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.   4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: And God rested on the seventh day from all his works. 5 And again in this passage he said, They shall not enter my rest. 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, Today, saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
The main reason why Christians cannot rest is that they consider salvation to be a parole and not a pardon and consequently, live in fear of re-offending and being put back in prison so we and have no peace.  
In order to find inner peace, every person must ultimately confront two fundamental questions –  Firstly: Does God accept me?   Secondly: If He does, on what basis does He do so?
 Until this gnawing issue is resolved, the prospect of entering into the Hebrews 4 rest will elude the believer.  Our understanding of acceptance must be the same as God’s.  The Bible is clear – we are accepted by the Father in Christ [Eph. 1:6].  Now we need to be a bit careful, you're not like Jesus' step-children and the Father loves his Son (Jesus) and tolerates you out of his love for his Son.  There can be few things that drive us more than our need to be accepted; we accept that we are loved but being accepted is another thing all together.  And it is this need-to-be-acceptedness in us that causes us to put ourselves under a ridiculous amount of pressure to perform.  Even those of us who purport to rest in the love of God have a tendency to secretly believe that God would accept us more if we were more like X, Y or Z.     This unease is reinforced by our discipleship programmes which consist of somebody telling us what we can, cannot, should and should not do rather than just telling us who we are!  For a disturbing number of Christians, the jury is still very much out on the question of acceptance.  Consequently, we dare not let up as the slogan on the T-shirt says, “Look busy, Jesus is coming.”    We have no ability to interpret acceptance apart from achievements. works.  Now don’t fall into the equal and opposite trap of believing that grace people don’t do anything. That would be a grave mistake.  It is simply that there is a difference between desire and drive. Desire is about expressing ourselves for others; drive is about proving ourselves to others.  
When these questions are alive in us we are in the burnout zone and here is it crucial for us to answer one key diagnostic question, the answer to which sets the course of your Christian life
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