Lucia's Blog: REST A WHILE
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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

REST A WHILE

"Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.' For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.'" 
Mark 6:30-32


After Jesus had sent the twelve apostles to fulfill the task He had sent them to do in Mark 6:7, they returned to Jesus to give Him a report of their good works and teachings.  Afterward, Jesus encouraged the apostles to join Him to rest for a while when they could be alone.  It looks like their work in the cities of Galilee was highly successful because of the crowds of people who were coming to them at this time. As a result of their hard work, they became swamped and didn't even have time to eat!  They were overwhelmed by the people who sought healing and teaching.  Jesus and the apostles proposed to get some rest departing by boat to be alone.

As I read Mark 6:30-32, I acknowledge that it is suitable for Christ’s followers to take brief periods of rest from their hard and constant labor in His kingdom. It is wise and good to rest periodically and get away from the rapid pace of life. But to do this, we must say “no” to certain requests and opportunities to serve. It is indeed not wrong to do this!  Of course, it may not be good to rest too much, but it is not wise to labor without pausing to rest and reflect.  When we rest too much, it is poor stewardship and can lead us into the snares of sin.  Labor without rest can lead us to “burn out” and discouragement. Jesus encouraged His apostles to rest a while. It does not mean resting for an extended period. Jesus wanted the apostles to rest for a while and then get back to work.

We Christians must seek proper balance in this area.  Such balance will be different for each Christian. Let me explain myself.  Some require less sleep than others and can work diligently in God's kingdom with little rest. They can stay focused for long periods of time without becoming burned out and discouraged.  Others, however, require more frequent periods of rest to remain positive and focused. And although God has blessed each of us His servants in different ways (cf. Matt. 25:15), it is not our job to judge our brother or sister concerning the amount of rest and relaxation he or she may or may not require (cf. Rom. 14:10-13).  It is our job to encourage one another to live faithfully to the best of our ability, and of course, that will include resting and recharging as needed. A servant who rests all the time is not of any use to the Master and His kingdom. Likewise, a servant who is always working hard to the point of neglecting himself or his family will certainly not maximize his potential for the Lord.

I have taken a break from social media, especially Facebook, to avoid burnoutFacebook is a toxic bowl of depression!  There is so much noise, whining, and negativity on this platform that one finds it necessary to take a break from all these disturbances that don’t edify our souls.  The layers of distraction have left me vulnerable.  Because I didn’t take time to rest and be refreshed, my trials (persecution, death, sorrow, and sickness) have weakened me.  I realized that I must take a break to be more effective in God’s kingdom.  I can't be of any use for our Lord when I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually burned out.  A servant of Christ who is always working hard and is not resting at some point in his life runs the risk of neglecting himself, his family and will undoubtedly fail to maximize his potential for the Lord.  I want to be a useful and productive worker for the Lord.  And though we must slog through the mud and garbage of everyday battles, we must find rest to be re-energized and work with new vigor, especially in God’s kingdom.  The rest has indeed been good for me!

I’m so grateful to God for strengthening me when I am weak.  I am also thankful to my husband, children, friends, and church family for their steadfast love and encouragement amid my trials.  To God be the glory!


I.   JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES SOUGHT TO REST FOR A WHILE:

In the context of Mark 6, it is possible that the disciples were not resting from their physical labors and travels. Perhaps, the news of John the baptizer's death (cf. Matt. 14:13) stirred up enough excitement (as Herod had initially feared).  It is also likely that John's disciples delivered the message to Jesus, expecting Him to do something about John's unfair death. The people knew that John was Jesus’ friend and that He intended to set up a kingdom. They also believed (erroneously) that this would involve overthrowing Herod. They wanted to force Jesus to be their physical king, hoping to obtain revenge.  But Jesus did not intend to establish a physical kingdom. This was a good time to be alone and find rest from their labors, mourn John's death, and calm the disciples.

Let us consider another occasion when Jesus sought a break from His work.
“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.  Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”  (John 6:1, 2, 15

We often push ourselves beyond our limits, and we become weary. Our work and accomplishments define us.  We fill our plate with unnecessary work and achievements until we forget who is in charge of our lives.  Of course, God is in charge, not us.  We busy ourselves so much that we forget to stop and use our time to focus on God.  Our need to accomplish unnecessary tasks often leads to a misuse of time.  We get so busy in our daily routine that our busyness prevents us from resting.  In our busyness, we forget that quiet living leads to peace in Christ.  Being still in God’s presence leads us to spend more time with Him to be more fruitful to Him as we connect with Him.  Busyness isn’t a virtue; it’s often a vice. Of course, God has told us, 
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”  (Ps. 127:2)

Our God is not impressed by busyness, for He is moved by love.  Because He loves us, He has promised us rest in Him at the end of all our work.  But He wants us to depend on Him for everything so that we may rest well. Really well!  Sadly, the god of this world is the author of a system where busyness is a status symbol, not the true God.

Today most of us are cluttered.  We seem to be drowning in unfruitful activities such as social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on ), entertainment, and pop culture.  We want more and more earthly pleasures without reservations.  The bombardment is constant!  A life of constant connectedness through the Internet, especially Facebook or other social media,  does not give us a healthy sense of security, relaxation, peace, and joy.  Living in the fullness of Christ helps us find the life that Jesus speaks of in John's writingsThus, we must turn off our computers, phones, IPads, tablets, Androids, and iPhones. We will sincerely regret spending too much time with such things if we spend too little time with God and those God has put in front of us. Our useless connectedness leaves us no time to live a life that glorifies God.  Because of this, we find ourselves cluttered by layers of distraction that do not satisfy us.  It is indeed a spirit that lives at a fast and frantic pace! 


II.   GOD RESTED AFTER HE CREATED THE UNIVERSE:
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”  (Genesis 2:2-3)

The Bible tells us that God took time for rest.  What does it mean that God rested on the seventh day?  What does rest mean to you?  For many, rest can mean watching TV, reading, camping, and napping.  When God rested, He didn’t load up His SUV and go camping or kick back in His La-z-boy to watch “Touched By An Angel.”  God rested!  His concept of rest is different. When God rested, He “ceased His creative activity.” He didn’t work.  He focused on what He had accomplished. God focused on His new creation, especially on a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.  

In Exodus 31:17, we read,
“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”

When God stopped all activity,  He ceased His work and was refreshed!  I love the word “refreshed” in our context! God was “refreshed!”  Since God thought it necessary to be refreshed by stopping and enjoying the creativity of His Creation, we are compelled to follow His example.  We, too, can be refreshed!  Don’t you think so?  

The dictionary defines “refreshed” as “to renew the well-being or vigor of oneself.” We can “renew” ourselves or, in other words, we can become “like new” again through rest.  

In Exodus 23:12, we read,
“Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”

The word translated “refreshed” also means “breathe.” The Sabbath in the Old Testament was a God-given opportunity to catch one’s breath during a weekly work routine.  

  • The Need For Rest And Refreshment:
We need rest and refreshment.  In Genesis 2:2-3, we find three essential words or concepts: 
  1. “work.” 
  2. “rested.”  
  3. “blessed.” 
  4. ”made holy.”  

We find the word “work” three times in this passage. The word “work” is mainly used for human work.  Many Bible scholars suggest the word “work” deliberately implies that man should stop his daily work on the seventh day.  And since God “rested,” they indicate that the word must mean “to cease,” “to desist from work” (Shabbat, “to rest”). The word "rest " does not refer to remedying exhaustion after a tiring week of work. Instead, it describes the enjoyment of accomplishment, the celebration of completion.  If God rested in Genesis 2:1-3 after His work was complete, why can’t we?

  • God Rested Because He Completed The Job:
God rested when He had performed the most important job, Creation.  He created everything and completed the job in six days. For Him, it was presumably easy. There is nothing God cannot do within the realm of logic.  In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was a day of rest after six days of work (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11).  Since the Jews began their days at sunset instead of sunrise, the seventh day began at sunset on Friday and ended on Saturday evening.  So, “the Sabbath” mainly refers to Saturday in the Bible.  Although the Jews were commanded to observe the Sabbath Day in the Old Testament, we wonder if Christians who live under the New Testament (Heb. 8:7-13; cf. Jer. 31:31-34) are commanded to keep the Sabbath?  Does “the Sabbath” still take place on Saturdays…or is it now on Sundays since that is the day when Christians go to church?  In truth, there is no parallel between the Sabbath rest of the Old Testament and the New Testament practice of assembling on the first day of the week to take the Lord’s Supper.

In Genesis 2:1-3, we see the first mention of the Sabbath Day in the Old Testament.  However, there is no further mention of it from Genesis 2:4 all the way to Exodus 15.  There is no mention of God’s righteous men throughout Genesis (Adam, Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah Melchizedek, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, etc.) observing the Sabbath Day as holy or a day of rest.  Some might ask about Genesis 2:3 of God blessing the seventh day and making it holy because He rested on that day.   Indeed, God blessed the seventh day right after Creation. We learn from the book of Hebrews that all the worship authorized in the Old Testament Law was but a shadow or type of the New Testament life and worship under Jesus Christ. The New fulfills and replaces the Old.

   
III.   RESTING WITH PURPOSE:

It might sound antithetical to call resting a discipline.  After all, resting demands that we stop doing things.  So, how can we be disciplined at not doing anything?  It is normal for us to live our lives filled with crowds of people, lots of noise, and a never-ending routine of busyness in our Western culture. Rest is the least familiar spiritual discipline we are acquainted with or practice, but we need the discipline of rest very much to survive.  

  • Pauses Are Necessary:
God rested after He had completed the job of Creation, and we must too. God did not need a day off. He does not get tired or run down. However, we humans are finite creatures with finite energy stores. We need to eat, drink and sleep. And though God does not get tired, depressed or discouraged, He took time, even placing a night between each day of His marvelous work, to stand back and look at His work. On the seventh day, he rested and declared it Holy.

Jesus understood the importance of rest.  We find in the Gospels that Jesus went off by Himself several times to be away from people.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”'  (Mark 6:31)

  • Pauses Allow us to See What We Have Already Done:
We often overwhelm ourselves with never-ending to-do lists.  We feel like we are never done, failing to stop and appreciate what we have done or what others have done for us. But when we pause, we can stop and appreciate what we have done or has been done for us.  The most excellent rest we have is the one we have In Jesus Christ. 
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  (Colossians 3:16)

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 1:4)
 
  • Rest Helps us to Focus on God:
Isaiah 58:13-14 says, 
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.”

When our focus is God, we find delight in Him. The essay called Hebrews in the New Testament compares this rest to our heavenly rest toward which we strive to enter even as the Ancient Israelites pressed forward to enter the Canaan rest when they had escaped the slavery of Egypt.

Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us,
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Psalm 62:5, 
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”

  • When We Focus on God, We Put Our Works and Lives Into Perspective:
God created the universe, not us.  We like to think that we are extremely irreplaceable in what we do. This way of thinking puts our life into perspective as to what we do.  And although the world thinks this way, God does not because He finds us essentialHe has given us important roles to fill in our homes, friends, and the church. What we do in those areas is far more important than anything else. 
  1. It is far more important and everlasting that our children,  friends, and coworkers hear and see the Gospel lived out in our lives than anything else.
  2. It is far more important that we demonstrate our faith to others for them to take us seriously.  

When we focus on God, we can see what He has done for us and what we do for Him.  What has God done? Just take a look around you and notice the world God created and everything in it. He sent His beloved Son to save the world from sin and His wrath.  We can find rest in Christ Jesus. We can be made holy just like the Sabbath. The author of Hebrews says,
“For both He who sanctifies [Jesus] and those who are sanctified [Us] are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”  (Hebrews 2:11)

When we learn to master this restfulness through God, we start to act in a way that brings honor to Christ, our Lord and Savior.
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."  (1 Peter 3:15)

  • Resting is Trusting God:
When we trust God, it is easier to bear life’s demands and busyness.   Trusting God allows us to know our limitsRest makes us aware that everything is not in our hands or that we are in control. Allowing ourselves to live within our limits helps us to see God working in our lives despite our efforts.  It also allows us to acknowledge that God will take care of us. 

  • Resting is Imitating Our Lord And Doing His Will:
When we rest, we imitate God. No matter how busy and how hard we work, we are not busier than God.  God will always have abundant work for us to do, no matter how much work we think we are doing.  Even at the very beginning, the very unfolding of history, we see a very active God setting aside time to rest from His creative work (Genesis 1-2).  

When we pause or rest, we make more time for listening to God and strip away unnecessary layers of distraction that must go away.  Resting allows us to be still in God’s presence in prayer and worship.  
"But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray"  (Luke 5:16).

If our Lord Jesus had to retreat from all earthly distractions to call on God, where do we stand? Are we making time to pray, study God's Word and meditate on it so that we may be strengthened and gain wisdom to save us from the dominion of darkness?  I am afraid many of us don't! 

When we fail to retreat from our unnecessary busyness, our activities become a stumbling block. If our Lord Jesus found it necessary and vital, how much more is it necessary for us?  How will we be grounded in His Word and learn how to teach the lost if we don't take the time needed for study and prayer?  Of course, that will demand resting and being still in God’s presence.  Jesus provides us with the greatest example of this rhythm of purposeful rest during His time of earthly ministry. He would often go to be alone and pray in silence and solitude All layers of earthly distractions must go away!
"It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God"  (Luke 6:12).

We must go against the grain of constant clamor!  The noise of this life can only make us miss the purpose God wants for us!

We must make time for God and His kingdom.  What that means is that we must choose to have days with "nothing" on our plate.  Nothing does not mean being free from basic daily tasks, but it can simply look like not adding extra activities, extra busyness for a while.  Let us not fill up our life with unnecessary layers that prevent us from being in the presence of God through prayer and Bible study. 

So, let us not jump-pack our days to feel good about ourselves.  A full schedule does not necessarily have a purpose in life.  God already has a great purpose for us, and that is to do His will and further His kingdom for His sake.
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven"  (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

God is the Author of time.  He gives it to us to do His will and do everything He sets before us in each designated season of our livesEach season will demand time well spent to be still in His presence. Let us make the best use of the time granted to us here on earth! Otherwise, we will never know what we must do with that time of life that God has given us.

During each season of our life, God will give us abundant life to do His will.  Thus we must not fill up all of our time with distractions and busyness because we are afraid that maybe God has planned more for us.  It is His will that we walk our path of faith here on earth pleasing Him.  He has only our good in mind, for He is a flawless and unselfish God.
"Who shows loving kindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The Lord of hosts is His name"  (Jeremiah 32:18).

Our earthly and futile busyness will bear no good fruit to God's Glory.  Take Heed!
"The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh"  (Ecclesiastes 4:5).

CONCLUSION:

Our world considers busyness a virtue. Our people believe that the more we do, the more excellent value we hold. Do you find yourself running around with a to-do list with more tasks than you have time? Do you ever find yourself bragging (or complaining) about how busy you are? Are your conversations with others about who is busier? Some even get offended at those who rest and relax for a short period of time. Be honest.  Rest. Yes, that’s it. Rest.  Think about it.

Life’s demands and busyness drain us and may eventually make us crash. That’s why it is vital to take time to rest and be in the presence of God through prayer and Bible study.  In the same way, we must take time to reevaluate what we are doing and how we are doing it.  We must step back and make changes.   God did not create us to fill every moment with something futileHe designed us to work hard and to work well to bear abundant fruit to His glory.  He also designed us to make time for meaningful and purposeful rest regularly.  So, we must find time to rest, turn off our computers, phones, TVs, and truly break from any type of work or busyness to be refreshed.  It will be wise to use that time to draw closer to God, reading and studying our Bible to enjoy His presence,  and spend precious time with those God has entrusted to us:  our home and our church family.  It will be a tremendous blessing!  

 In my walk with God, I have learned that life is more than endless moments of consuming work, stressful problems, and chaotic busyness.  The god of this world is a taskmaster who demands constant busyness.  As I look around me, I see many people getting very little rest or refreshment because they are too busy working too hard to gain earthly goals, not God’s goals. Sadly, their busyness gets in the way of connecting and developing a relationship with their Creator, God.  We forget God’s purpose for us.  He has designed us to find rest in HimAnd that must be our longing!  When we fail to rest and be still in God’s presence, we start to feel all sorts of sickness, anxieties, and weariness.  Did you know that the busier we are, the more we rely on ourselves and our strength rather than God’s?  Resting reminds us of our need for Christ.  It takes us back to the source of our strength to live the life God has called us to.

Although it is good to be busy, especially laboring hard and steadfastly for the Lord, we Christians must take brief periods of rest and get away from the rapid pace of life.  Thus it is necessary and not wrong to say “no” and pause from our opportunities to serve.  You see, Jesus encouraged the apostles to rest a while after they had fulfilled the mission on which He had sent them (cf. Mark6:7ff). They returned to Jesus with a good report of their good works and teachings.  Jesus then encouraged them to come with Him for a period of rest where they could be alone. Their work in the cities of Galilee was highly successful because many were coming to them at this time. But they were so busy that they didn't even have time to eat! The people were overwhelming them with many requests for healing and teaching.  Jesus and the apostles were encouraged to get some rest by departing by boat to be alone.  

In today's world, being still has become a challenge.  In a modern culture where technology seems to have total control of our lives, cell phones, fun apps, computers, social media, TV, and web surfing can be fun.  Sadly, many of these gadgets and distractions take us away from being still in the presence of God.  Let us be still in the presence of God.  We forget that being still in the presence of God brings us direction from God’s Word and breathes life into us.  It helps us not only to speak to God but to listen to Him through His Word.

Social media is one of the greatest distractions of this age.  Our slavery to social media is likely to have a dramatic negative effect on our diligence and productivity. It can become an excuse for not accomplishing anything.  It shows the marks of distraction and dissipation.  Too much social media can give the impression of having done something while neglecting what ought to be done. 
"In all labour there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty."  

Are our online interactions more than idle chatter? Or is our life mastered by the empty blather characteristic of so much social media?  If your online engagement is dragging your soul down to hell, then it would be more profitable for you to cut the cables and cast away the wi-fi than to be up-to-date with all the latest trends and technology even as you descend into the pit. Walk away!  Take a break!

Therefore, let us purpose in our hearts to find time to rest and be still in His presence, whatever season we may be. I assure you your perspective will change.  It will bring you peace, contentment, and great understanding.  And most importantly, it will help you declutter all the unnecessary layers of earthly distraction in your life.  Remember to find the time to rest in Him. Choose to be less busy.  Allow yourself to be refreshed so that you may be encouraged to go back to work in God’s kingdom. It is a rest of encouragement and motivation for the soul.  It is a rest that will stir us to live and undertake our God-given tasks with enthusiasm, vigor, and endurance.  

May we work diligently for the Lord and rest when we need to. May we never forget that there remains "a rest for the people of God"--the glory of heaven (Heb. 4:9), which is a much better rest than anything we can enjoy in this life. May God help us to declutter our souls of distractions that rob us of everlasting life.


Luci


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