Are you feeling consumed by your work and home schedules? Do you struggle with anxiety and sleepless nights instead of finding rest? God invites us to rest. But true rest requires us to trust God. In this 5-day reading plan, Pete Briscoe teaches about God’s promise of rest.
Rest on all sides
While I was playing golf one day, a herd of deer ran onto the middle of the fairway. A spot of rough appealed to them, so some laid down while others grazed. As we watched, they were at total rest—no sign of concern—until my buddy drove our golf cart through the rough.
Isn’t it remarkable how we can be at rest one moment but frantic the next? Wouldn’t it be awesome if every moment could be free from anxiety and struggle? Not for just a couple of minutes, but rather rest on all sides at all times.
It sounds good, but is it possible?
In 2 Chronicles 14, we read of a king named Asa. King Asa was young, but he had a heart for the Lord and trusted God with his position. Shortly after he became king, his kingdom came under attack by an enormous army. Since battles were fought via hand-to-hand combat, Asa was understandably nervous. So he prayed, “Help!” (2 Chronicles 14:11). The text tells us the Lord answered:
“So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” (2 Chronicles 15:15)
Rest on every side… Isn’t that a powerful phrase? Think about it—if God had given them rest on most sides, that wouldn’t be authentic rest, would it? Not at all. For true rest, every side of the kingdom must be at peace.
Are you experiencing rest on every side, or do you find yourself in combat? Perhaps you’re in conflict with people you love. Maybe you’re looking cancer in the eye, about to enter the battle. Perhaps your marriage is in perpetual conflict and you long for peace.
Where can we find rest on every side?
Good news: we don’t have to wait for death to experience rest. God’s promise of rest is in the here and now, and it’s our choice whether or not we enter it.
Lord, I want to face the unknowns in life while being completely in Your rest. Let Your Spirit lead me into this promised rest on all sides. Take back areas of conflict and empower me to trust You. Do Your supernatural work in that area of my life. Amen.
Don’t miss the rest
I’m a fan of road trips. I love the scenery, the playlists, and the long conversations. What I don’t love is seeing signage that promises great food at the next exit, but then as I try to change lanes and veer right, a semi-truck shows up out of nowhere. Just like that, I miss it. Whatever rest that sign promised is now a blur in my rearview mirror.
Can that happen in our spiritual life too? Can we miss the promise of rest?
Hebrews 4:1 reads, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”
This is present tense, friends. We aren’t talking about final rest—or rest in heaven. We are talking about today—the here and now—so long as we remember the therefore.
The author wants us to keep in mind the history of Israel. The first generation of Israelites refused to enter their promised place of rest. More accurately, they refused to trust. As a result, they stayed in the wilderness—wandering, wanting, and whining. Their unbelief excluded them from God’s rest.
But that’s not all. The second generation of Israelites did enter the Promised Land. When God said, “Go,” they said, “Okay.” This second generation entered God’s promised place of rest but then failed to experience it. Why? Their cycles of unbelief show us that even inside the place of rest, they struggled with trusting God.
That’s what the author of Hebrews is saying to us today: The promise of rest still stands, but don’t miss it!
How can we make sure we don’t miss the rest? Believe. Believe that God’s invitation to rest is for you—today—and then trust His promise. No Plan B. It’s either God’s rest or bust!
Father, I long to release feelings of doubt, unbelief, or control, so I don’t miss the rest You promise in Jesus. Give me an opportunity to fix my eyes on You. Steady my gaze through the strength of Your Spirit so I become unwavering in focus and belief. Amen.
God’s best for us
As a parent, I’ve always hoped my kids would value the things my wife and I value. Some of our values will keep them from heartache and consequences. Others will bring relational intimacy into our home. While I know part of maturing is discovering one’s own values, I still hope.
God hoped—and hopes—for His children too. If Israel had followed His lead, they would have experienced life. If they had trusted Him, they would have received His promises. One of these promises was the good news of rest.
But Israel didn’t always esteem the Father’s wisdom.
Hebrews 4:2 says, “For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.”
Israel didn’t have faith that God’s invitation was best for them. They heard the good news. They considered the good news. But they didn’t value the message. As a result, the first generation didn’t enter the Promised Land. And while the second generation did enter, they also never experienced God’s rest. The land was in constant turmoil as God’s children lived in cyclical unbelief.
But the story isn’t over. The promise of rest still stands, as the Father has invited us into a second plan—this one better than the first. We, too, have had Good News preached to us. Our Good News is the same, but slightly different: the Israelites were promised rest in the land, but we’ve been promised rest in Christ.
Jesus invites us to “Come to me, all you who are weary… and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The promise of rest still stands. But our experience of God’s rest depends on whether or not we believe Jesus’ invitation is for us.
Father, I trust in the goodness of Your plan. It’s my desire to experience all the rest You are promising through my relationship with Jesus. May Your Spirit increase my faith and my trust as I lay down my plan before Yours. Amen.
A rest that never ends
There’s football, and then there’s football. It’s the same word, but depending upon where you are in the world, only one matters.
We could say, then, that there’s rest, and then there’s rest.
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)
What sort of rest are we given through Christ? It’s Sabbath rest—the rest God entered after creating the world.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this before, but it’s fascinating. If you turn to Genesis 1, in the creation account, there is a recurring phrase that closes out each day of creation:
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:5)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. (Genesis 1:8)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. (Genesis 1:13)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. (Genesis 1:19)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. (Genesis 1:23)
And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
With each new day, God created something totally different. He never backtracked as each day found completion. By the seventh day, God had finished His work.
Do you know what phrase doesn’t appear after this seventh day? Scripture doesn’t say, “There was evening, and there was morning—the seventh day.”
Instead, we are told, “By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).
Following the work of creation, God started resting and has yet to stop. He lives in a perpetual state of resting. This is Sabbath rest, and this is the rest we enter into as believers. It’s a rest that never ends.
Lord, if I’m honest, a rest that never ends sounds impossible for a person who lives by calendars and to-do lists! I cease my striving and anticipate this new way of resting in You. Amen.
How can we receive rest?
Have you ever heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves”? There are some who are absolutely convinced this saying comes straight from Scripture. It doesn’t. In fact, what we find in Scripture is exactly the opposite: God offers rest to those who stop their striving.
Hebrews 4:10 says, “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their work, just as God did from his.”
Following His work of creation, God entered rest, and Scripture implies He has been resting ever since. This perpetual resting is Sabbath rest. We are invited to experience this rest all the time, in every situation.
But there is a condition: We must believe that Jesus is who He says He is; we must accept His invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Until we come to Jesus, we will not receive our rest.
Why, then, are anxiety, conflict, and worry still present in the lives of some believers? Not feeling God’s rest doesn’t mean our salvation is at risk. Rather, it means we have an opportunity available to us: We can stop striving and start trusting.
In order to experience God’s Sabbath rest, we must rest from our own work just as God rested from His. Instead of taking things into our own hands, we’ll leave them in His. When we trust Him in this way, we will experience rest.
I know it sounds like passivity, but it’s not. If we turn to the end of the Hebrew letter, we read, “Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” (13:20-21).
In other words, to stop our striving is to trust God’s equipping. He is the One who works in us and through us. As we surrender to His indwelling Spirit, we find perfect rest.
Jesus, loosen my grip on circumstances and unknowns. I offer You my focus and accept Your equipping. By depending upon Your Spirit, I will live and love in a way that’s both pleasing to You and restful for me. Such grace! Amen.
- Do I believe that God wants me to rest?
- What is something I need to stop worrying about and trust God with?
- Are there practical steps I can take to experience daily rest?