“Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
What does that mean? In our crazy world, with our busy messy lives, how can we rest? Most of us feel like at times we need more hours in the day.
Some of the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary for rest are: (noun) repose, sleep; a place for resting or lodging; peace of mind or spirit; something used for support or (verb) free of anxieties
Let’s consider some of these definitions.
- Repose, Sleep
We all know our physical bodies need rest. Article I read list some of the health risks of too little or poor sleep.
Weight gain/Obesity – people with poor sleep habits typically have a higher BMI (body mass index) than those who get 8 hours.
Diabetes – inadequate sleep influences the way the body processes glucose and can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.
Heart Disease and Hypertension – insufficient sleep with people suffering from hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure, eventually increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Mood Disorders – Irritability and moodiness can be caused by a single sleepless night, and long term mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and mental distress have been connected to chronic sleep issues.
Performance and Public Safety – Poor job performance and accidents can sometimes be attributed to lack of sleep.
Life Expectancy – Studies show that sleeping five hours or less a night increased mortality risk by roughly 15 percent.
God created our bodies to renew and refresh themselves through sleep. Cells regenerate and brains sort out superfluous information stored over the day. If you have trouble falling to sleep, ask God for restful sleep.
Psalm 4:8 (AMP) says “In peace [and with a tranquil heart] I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.”
Psalm 127:2 says “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”
Proverbs 3:24 promises “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”
The Amplified Bible says in Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”
Sometimes, we need to take a break from whatever we are doing, especially when we are overwhelmed with activity and business.
In Mark 6: 31, Jesus told the disciples to come rest awhile. “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.’”
The Greek word translated “rest” here is anapauð : (reflex.) to repose (lit. or fig. [be exempt], remain), by implication to refresh:-take ease, refresh, (give, take) rest. (Also the same word translated rest in Matt. 11:28) Jesus knew the disciples needed to take time refresh, take rest.
- Peace of mind or spirit; free of anxieties
God created us as a three part being just as He is – He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We live in a physical body, we have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and we are a spirit.
Not only does our physical body need rest, but also our mind and emotions. Sometimes the poor state of our physical body can affect our mental or emotional being, but we also need to rest, or refresh our mental state of being.
We all have a certain amount of stress, it’s called life. But prolonged stress can damage our body, even to the point of serious illness or death. God did not create us to carry excess stress. And He has given us instructions and the tools how to handle it.
In 1 Peter 5:6, 7 tells us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” We do not need to spend time stressing over situations, needs, problems especially those things we have no control over. We do need to acknowledge we are unable control it, and then cast it all over on God. And if that means we have to do it over and over, then we do it over and over, repenting for taking it back.
A lady named Phyllis Ford said “Rest is displayed in our ability to yield to the presence of God, trusting that He is in control of our lives… We relinquish our ability to fix, manage, and control things.” Yield to God’s presence and trust He is in control. And trust Him that if there are things we can do or need to change, He will reveal it to us.
Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
“He will quiet you with His love.” Just like a mother quiets her crying child with words of love and comfort, God will quiet our hearts no matter what is going on in our lives, even in the craziness sometimes if we only trust Him. God is in the midst of the worst circumstances and will quiet us with His love. He is the only one able to truly give us peace of mind.
Jesus said in verse 29 of Matt. 11, “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.” The interesting thing here, the Greek word translated rest here, is anapausls : (from anapauð,) but it means – intermission; by implication recreation; – rest. Jesus is inviting us to come take a break from things with Him. Come to Him, and we can take an intermission from worry, from stress, from sorrow. When I was on Grand Jury, some days were so very hard and at times depressing. No matter how hard I tried, I could not “unsee” or “unhear” some of the horrific photographs I saw or the disturbing testimony I heard. If I went home and brooded over things, I usually would have trouble sleeping, thinking about what I’d seen and heard. But If I went home, took a walk and invited Jesus to come along with me, and talked to Him about it, the burden of it always lifted and I was able to put it out of my mind and sleep that night.
In the book of Acts Peter was thrown into prison, probably to be executed just as James his brother had been, what was his response? (Acts 12:5) He was asleep bound between 2 guards! Why? How? Because he’d cast the care of his life over on God.
So when a stressful situation is keeping you up at night, pray “Father, I cast the care of this (whatever it is) over on You because I know You care for me. Now I will lay down and sleep because You have promised to give your beloved sleep.”
Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me… Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:1, 27)
- Something used for support or a place for resting or lodging
Now just as rest is important for our physical bodies and our souls, rest is essential for our spirits. When we are physically tired, when we are mentally or emotionally stressed and drained, our spiritual life suffers and we are ineffective for the Kingdom of God. But equally, when we’re not refreshed and growing spiritually, our bodies and souls suffer. Each part of our being is dependent on the other – when one part suffers, our entire being suffers.
What is it that is rest for us, that something we can use for support? Where do we go to find a place of resting?
The NKJV of Psalm 94:12-15 says, “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. But judgment will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”
Now listen to it from The Message: “How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right.”
“Providing a circle of quiet in the clamor of evil.” When we meditate on God’s Word, when we spend time alone with God, when we pray, God will provide a circle of quiet.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus is the One we can lean on for rest. In this life we will have problems, we will have conflicts, we will have family issues, we will have financial issues, we will have health issues. But Jesus says “In Me you can have peace.
Why is this important?
Today we are in a spiritual war as never before. There are things happening in the world, in our country, all around us, things that in the natural realm we have no control over. Satan is trying to destroy our nation, he wants to destroy our families, he wants to control our children.
But in the spirit realm, we have power because Jesus said, “I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 AMP)
The most important thing we can do for the Kingdom of God is pray. Pray Spirit led, Word based prayers. The last phrase of James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
But if we’re struggling in our own soul, if we’re worn out, how effective can we be?
Matthew 28:18a says “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore..”
We have been given the authority in Jesus’ Name, we have been commissioned by Jesus, to work for the Kingdom of God. But we have to be ready and be prepared before we can be effective in this Kingdom work. We have to be ready for battle when God calls us.
We have to be physically and mentally ready as well as spiritually prepared for do Kingdom warfare.
The Bible says of Jesus: “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Mark 1:35 (AMP)
Jesus began His day, spending time with the Father, listening to what the Father said. If you’re not an early riser, ask the Father what time He’d like you to meet with Him and ask Him to help you to set your schedule accordingly. We have to fit our schedule into God’s plans, not expect God to fit His plans into our schedule. Spend time during the day just quietly sitting, listening for His voice. You can pray, or not; read your Bible or not; but just bask in His presence.
Listen to Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:27-30.
“Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. ‘The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.
‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’”
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,