True Rest

Journal Entry // December 24, 2022

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (ESV)

Revelation 14:13

Rest… This can become one of the focal points of my days and weeks. I sometimes let this idea of rest drive and motivate my every decision and thought throughout the day and week. My mind seeks rest. My body seeks rest. My desire and purpose is to just simply rest. What I struggle with as I consider this passage about the rest found only in Jesus is that the “rest” I am seeking and desiring on a daily basis is not this same godly rest found in Christ. No, the rest I am seeking is more often founded and based upon sin in my heart. When I say that I desire rest, I typically mean that I want the freedom to do as I see fit. I want full control of my actions and even the right to indulge my laziness and apathy. The rest I seek is not this holy rest from a life of laboring for Jesus. The rest I seek is an escape from the rigors of this world. This false rest is deceptive because it builds up within my mind the idea that I am working and laboring so intensely that I need rest to recover. When in actuality the work I have been about is not the true sweet labor of following Christ each and every moment of each and every day.

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Sleep, Slumber, and Folded Hands

Journal Entry // May 29, 2021

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, [34] and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 24:33-34 ESV

It is such a simple matter to move from a little sleep and a little slumber and a little rest to a life of lethargy and apathy. This is not just a warning for the physical poverty of this world, but a warning about the spiritual dangers of apathy. I think we all deal with this temptation at every point of our lives and will continue to deal with this no matter how dedicated or consistent we may be in our spiritual disciplines and routine.

Just a little is how it all begins. This is the story of pervasive sin in my life. It all seemingly begins with some form of this phrase, “just a little.” The encouragement from God’s word is to stay vigilant in the face of pressure. To hold the line. The barrage of temptation coming from my enemies (world, flesh, devil) is not going to relent and take it easy. The enemy of my soul is relentless and that means no rest for me. No peace for me. No folding of the hands of sitting back to bask in a job well done or to take stock of how God has used or is using me for his glory.

Usually, it’s a simple matter. A simple adjusting of God’s standards through my understanding. It is such a simple thing to move the line and let just a fraction of disobedience and non-conformity seep into life. To tell myself that this is an insignificant battle and one that is not worth getting worked up about. Maybe even criticizing others for the Pharisaical attitude toward rigidity in an area. All the while, knowing that I am making excuses. Knowing that I am in the wrong. Yet, still moving the line. Until one day I wake up and the line has moved so far away from me that I can no longer see God’s clear commandments any longer.

I need a ferocity and vigilance in my pursuit of holiness. I need to see my life as a calling to cultivate delight. Cultivation is hard and difficult work. Like a farmer who relies on the production of his crops to provide for him and his family, so too must I see the cultivation of delighting in the Lord as the most vital and basic command of the Lord. I am in the business of caring for my heart, soul, mind, and strength. All of these needing to be shaped and cared for in such a way that the Lord is glorified in and through my life. For it is only when I am delighting in the Lord with every ounce of my being that I am truly living. Circumstances come and go. Trials and adversity will find me. It is only faith being lived in daily moment by moment actions that anchor me to the delight and fellowship of God.

So a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands will need to wait until their proper time – in heaven. When the Lord calls me home, then I will have true rest. I will find that comfort and rest that my soul longs for. The path leading to my true home is uniquely designed for me and is meant to mold and shape me to be more like Christ with each and every step. I need patience and steadfastness. I need humility. I need mercy and grace in abundance. I need Jesus.

The Strong Tower

Journal Entry // May 23, 2021

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Proverbs 18:10 ESV

A safe and secure strong tower is the name of the Lord. When I read this description, my mind takes me back to the tower at Lyme Park in Manchester, England. Even though this was a simple tower not meant to defend or provide security, it gives me a good picture of what the writer is saying.

There is this tower in the middle of the open country set high on the hill. A tower that is made of stone and allows for weary travelers to find rest, warmth, and security in the midst of the harshness of the moor. Any traveler or wanderer would be able to see this tower from miles away as it is located on top of a hill and commands 360° views that extend for miles and miles.

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Come Rest with Jesus

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28–30 ESV

“Come to me.”

The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus is inviting us to come to Him. This is much more than a call from our master or our boss who is commanding and requiring us to obey his order. No, this is an invitation from a dear friend to come and spend quality intimate time with Him personally. It is a personal invitation from the Son of God to come and be with Him in a personal relationship.

The second thing we notice is that “we” need to come to Jesus. This is not something that will happen against our will or through passive/willful resistance. This is an act that requires us to admit our own dependence, weakness, and humility. We must drop our pretense of self-reliance and humbly come to Christ.

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Anxious Toil

Journal Entry // April 23, 2021

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.

Psalm 127:2 ESV

What does it mean to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? One indicator of how my life is oriented can be seen in this phrase, “eating the bread of anxious toil.” This is such a good and helpful picture to help reflect on my trust and rest in the Lord alone for all things.

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Sabbath Priority

Journal Entry // March 6, 2022

Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.

Exodus 31:15 ESV

This verse has troubled me for the last few years. There was a time in my life of ministry where I was not honoring the Sabbath. This verse was far removed from my weekly experience. It is true that I technically worked six days and was of off the seventh, but my off day was far from a solemn day of rest. My six days were given to the ministry of working for the church and seeing the gospel go throughout the city. Six days of hard meaningful spiritual work. That seventh day became mine. I became possessive of it and reserved it for whatever I deemed best for me, which was typically not a solemn rest, holy to the Lord.

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Holy Rest

Journal Entry // January 3, 2022

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 2:3 ESV

The seventh day, the Sabbath day, the holy day of rest. This is a day that I have trouble truly understanding how best to honor and be obedient. There seems to be a good variety of opinions and interpretations and understanding of what God has called his people to with the Sabbath. God blessed this day. God made it holy. God rested from all his work of creation. The Sabbath was set up for us.

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