Monday, May 21, 2007

Finding Rest
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Finding Rest

Intro.: I have just finished one of the worst weeks of the year.

  1. There are really two of them – and they both coincided with the time of my final exams.

  2. I find that I am so wrapped up in writing exams, giving the exams, and grading the exams and all the other remaining assignments, it is easy to let other priorities get out of control.

  3. It affects my home life, it effects, in some ways, my health.

  4. Now I won't need to face that stress again – but those know me, know that finals week is stressful.

  5. And during those weeks, I need to find times of rest.

Read: Joshua 20


Trans: One of the great themes of scripture is REST.

  1. It may not look like it as we have moved through the first 19 chapters of Joshua.

  2. Yet, the people are now beginning to settle the promised land, they will find rest.

  3. Oh, there problems are not over, but they have come to the end of their 40 years of wandering.

  4. Just as God was leading the Jews to a place of rest, he also offers us rest.

T.S. Joshua 20 provides a set of principles that will guide our discussion of the believers rest. I would like to look at three principles.

  1. There are times that God gives us rest

    1. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that Joshua was getting tired.

    2. It was over 40 years ago that he and Caleb had first visited the promised land. I expect that he would be tired.

    3. It is time for Joshua to rest.

    4. We all come to times when it seems like life will not slow down. The expectations of a job, the responsibility of a family, and the unexpected events of life – there are times when it does not slow down.

    5. Look over your life this past week – can you remember times when you really wished that God could have slowed you down? When the events of the week seemed just a bit more than you felt ready to handle.

    6. We all get those kind of times. And that is when God will be saying – it is time to slow down.

(Ill.) Rest is not just a theme in Joshua – it is found in the Genesis where God rested after the creation. David found time to rest in the caves in the hills around Israel as he fled from Saul. And Jesus found times to get away – away from the throngs that seemed to find him so often and away from His disciples. One person has counted and found 10 distinct times that Jesus got

    1. We all say that we should follow Jesus' example – but there is something about life in the 21st century that does not allow us to slow down. Yet if we were to follow Jesus' example, we would find time to slow down.

(Ill.) I have a number of preachers say, “Why should I rest? After all, the devil never takes a vacation.” The devil was never intended to be our example – Jesus was. 1

    1. Let me suggest the following – find seven minutes each day to slow down and listen to Jesus, find time each week to slow down and let God bring healing into your life.

    2. Part of the Christian life is to rest – take time to do it.

  1. There are places that God gives us rest

    1. Joshua was expected to set aside six cities that could be places of refuge for those accused of a crime.

    2. Jewish law distinguished between intentional sin and accidental sin and this distinction is particularly important when it comes to the death of another person. The person who was charged could run to one of these cities of refuge and wait for his trial.

    3. It was a place of safety where those who claimed to be falsely accused of a crime could go. They could not return to the location of their crime and if guilty, they still had to face the consequences. In the meantime, they were essentially under house arrest until they were tried.

    4. I have places where I can rest. I suppose I could tell you that it would be my bed or the recliner in our living room. But those are not really places of rest. I have places I sneak to rest – there is the library, and then there is Borders in Henrietta. But my really favorite place to get away to is the zoo. For several years we had zoo memberships that allowed me to visit regularly. Now, as I begin this new adventure, I have again purchased a membership.

(Ill.) When Jesus rested, he found deserted places, He went to the desert, He went to places where there was grass and trees. He found refuge in the mountains and along the coast. He found quietness while He not only found time, he also found places to avoid the throngs. He found places where God could revive Him and prepare Him for the next step in ministry.2

    1. I hope that each of you can find places where God can reach you. I hope that each of you can find a place where you can retreat to and meet with God.

  1. There are ways in which God gives us rest

    1. So if there are times and places to find rest – how do we find it.

    2. One of the biggest obstacles is that we don't know how to relax. We live in a culture that says keep moving, we live in a culture that says never stop. But we must have missed something – if God gives us times and places to rest, he will also give us ways to rest in the middle of this crazy world.

    3. God does give us times of rest and He does give us places of rest. He also gives us a great many ways to rest.

    4. The cities of refuge were not Joshua's idea, they were not Joshua's idea. Rather they were a response to God's requirements. You see, the cities of refuge originated when Moses was talking to God, when Moses was praying.

    • The first way God allows us to find refuge is in prayer. When life is feeling tough, when you find that life getting to you, taking a moment to prayer can allow you rest for the moment.

    1. Another way that God gives us to rest is just stop. Even for a minute or two. Close your eyes relax.

    2. I hope that you never forget that we can find rest in scripture.

(Ill.) As part of the service at Royal Gardens we use read each Sunday's lectionary reading from the Psalms. As we read the selection each Sunday I am impressed with how down to earth the poems are that were written about 3000 years ago. I first chose the Psalms because i wanted to have something that made this second service Over the past year we have read about one-third of the Psalms – and, with the exceptions of one or two, I have found them to be enlightening and they speak as much to today's world as they did to David so long ago.

    1. Certainly, scripture is more important than just the Psalms, so I must remember I can find rest in all of scripture.

Conclusion: One of the privileges that we enjoy as believers is rest. During the coming week, let me encourage you to

  1. Find some time to rest in God

  2. Set aside a place that will allow you to rest in God

  3. Find some way this week to rest in your relationship in Christ.

Don't let the anxiety of the week get in the way of the rest that is available


1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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