RESTING IN GOD'S
What stops us entering
into God's presence and why are we all at different places on the journey? Some
of us may have got there, some are almost there, but hold back for one reason
or another. Others may feel they are so far away it's impossible to get there,
others may feel they are not worthy to be there.
We're going to look at
what stops us from getting there and what we can do about removing the
obstacles that are in the way, what it's like to be there, and maybe most
important of all, how we stay there - resting in his presence.
What stops us from
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, "Come to me, all
you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest
for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Are you weary and
burdened? What are you carrying unnecessarily? What weighs you down? You've
probably all heard that phrase, "She's carrying the weight of the world on her
shoulders". Jesus is our burden-bearer - let's allow him to take the burdens
from our shoulders. What are the burdens?
- unconfessed sin
- feeling unworthy
All these things can be
obstacles that prevent you from entering into God's presence. Isaiah 53:4,
"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried all our sorrows."
He dealt with everything
on the cross and he invites us to believe it, to come to him, give him our
burdens, and find rest for our souls. Have you ever spoken to someone when
they've unburdened themselves to you and they've said, "Thank you, I feel as
though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders."? That's what Jesus
wants us to do with him, to unburden ourselves to him - confess the sin, let
him take the worries and the fears.
How do we remove the
By recognising what they
are and taking action. Unconfessed sin can be a huge weight. In Psalm 51 David
acknowledged his sin before God - verse 7 says, "Cleanse me with hyssop and I
will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." If we confess our
sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from
all our unrighteousness. Psalm 24:3-4 says, "Who may ascend the hill of the
Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." He purifies us, washes us clean
so that we can stand in his presence - justified, because of what Jesus has
done, because he died on a cross and shed his blood, so that we can be
reconciled to the Father. Confess your sin and remove the obstacle.
Feeling unworthy is an
obstacle that can be put up and the enemy will reinforce it by whispering in
your ear, "Of course you're unworthy - who do you think you are? You're not
important - God hasn't got time for you." It's a lie! God wants to have
communion with you - it's what he made you for - to enjoy fellowship with you.
He loves you - you're his child. When our children make a mistake, we don't
stop loving them. This obstacle is more of a problem for you - it's not a
problem to him. It can be smashed in Jesus' name. Worries, anxieties, fears -
all these things are obstacles we put in the way. We hold on to them instead of
letting Jesus take them or allowing him to share them. Many times we carry
things alone - they get heavier the longer you carry them - I know, I've done
it! But my experience is that as soon as I ask Jesus into the situation, it
changes - where before there's been nothing but striving - when I've unburdened
myself to him in prayer, in place of the striving comes peace and calm, and
rest. It's lovely to be resting instead of striving.
So if you are unable to
enter into God's presence, unable to find that place of rest, allow the Holy
Spirit to show you what the obstacles are that are stopping you from getting
there and determine to remove them. Right now, where you are, you can do that,
or you may want to share it with someone and have them pray for you. The bible
encourages us to share one another's burdens in prayer.
To be in God's
presence - what's it like to be there?
With all the obstacles removed,
and with clean hands and a pure heart, we can enter God's presence. Expectant,
ready to be refreshed - Psalm 131:2 "I have stilled and quieted my soul".
Psalm 91 "He who dwells
in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty". The
King James version says, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 84:1 "How lovely is
your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty, my soul yearns, even faints, for the
courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."
The Lord's house,
altogether lovely - when we gather for worship, we are refreshing ourselves and
one another - isn't that a lovely thought? My soul yearns - a desire deep and
insatiable - my very soul yearning for God - like a lovesickness - an absolute
longing for that intimacy. Unless we experience the presence of God, we have
done nothing. Merely gathering together is worth nothing, if we haven't drawn
closer to him, we shall leave unsatisfied, our thirst unquenched. There are
precious things to be found in the presence of God. Rest for the restless. Food
for the hungry. Love, mercy, grace, comfort, strength, joy, peace. Drink for
the thirsty. Psalm 42:1 says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my
soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
How do we stay there?
Definition of rest from the Collins English Dictionary:
'relaxation from exertion or labour; repose; sleep; any relief or
refreshment, as from worry or something troublesome; calm; tranquillity;
cessation from motion; at rest - not moving; still; to reassure; settle; to
depend or cause to depend; rely'.
We don't rest enough
today. Everything in life goes at such a pace - everyone wants everything now,
today. No escape - mobile phones, voicemails, everything shouts at us - don't
stop - shops open on Sunday, some open 24 hours a day. Nothing stops - we keep
going. It upsets the natural cycle of life - God intends us to rest - Elijah
ran away, afraid, after an exhausting time of ministry on Mount Carmel. He sat
down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He fell asleep. God fed
him and gave him water - he lay down again and rested. Then he got up and ate
and drank again - strengthened and refreshed he travelled 40 days and 40
nights. Then God spoke to him, not in the powerful wind, not in the earthquake,
not in the fire, but in a gentle whisper.
What a lesson for us -
when we get tired out, doubts and fears creep in. We need to rest - be
refreshed, restored, we need an oasis. We need to stop sometimes - Jesus did.
We can't wait till everything's done - it never will be. There'll always be
more to do. I must do this, I should do that, I've got to go there, we wear
ourselves out. My theory - we're so bad at resting that very often we get ill,
then we have to rest - we have no choice. When we rest I believe it's easier to
Rest is to be found in
God's presence and what better place to be - resting in him. There are
blessings for those who live in close fellowship with God, who dwell in him.
Dwelling in the secret
Having found the place of
rest, we then need to dwell in that secret place, under the shadow of the
Almighty. The secret place - an intimate unrestrained communion - a place where
you can make known your heart, with its needs and wishes, its thoughts and
feelings, its doubts and anxieties, its sorrows and its joys, to God as to a
loving, perfect friend. A place of refuge from the storms of the world where we
can cleave, cling to him. This almighty Friend has admitted me, you, his chosen
ones, to his secret place. It's almost too wonderful to be true.
He desires it because he
wants to commune with us, to reveal his mind to us, his plans, his ways and his
thoughts. He wants us to know him. It's not his fault we don't know him - he's
provided the way - we often don't take it.
This dwelling in God's secret place - we
must make it our rest, not just coming as guests to a hotel, but as inhabitants
to their own dwellings - like coming home. The Hebrew word for "shall abide"
signifies "he shall pass the night" - denotes security and rest in times of
darkness, temptations and crises.
We don't all dwell in the most holy
place - we run to it at times and enjoy occasional approaches, but do we dwell?
Do we habitually reside in his presence? If we dwell with him, we shall remain
under his care - he shields us. We are safe with him - his outstretched wings
of power and love cover us. This protection is ours if we abide constantly in
him. The Almighty himself is where his shadow is - this suggests such a
closeness - an inseparableness - you can't be closer.
He is our refuge - we can fly to him. He
is our fortress - the Lord of Hosts stands between us and our enemies - we're
secure, unafraid - the Lord is an impregnable fortress.
How do we do it - come to dwell in this
secret place and rest there? We make it ours by faith, "I will say of the Lord,
he is my refuge and my fortress." I cast myself on him, throw myself on him,
pitch myself, make him my dwelling place, my habitation. When we are dwelling
in this way, no harm can befall us.
In times of trial and temptation,
difficulties and problems, we're wise if we fly into the secret place of God -
to rest in the shadow of the Almighty. My strength is to sit still there. When
we're weak and struggling, striving against sin and sorrow, hurting from the
attacks of man, he is our safe, quiet resting place.
If we can reach that place we are
blessed indeed because having reached it, no harm will befall us. If you reach
that place, the holy of holies, all you can do is worship Jesus - nothing else
matters - everything else falls away - problems disappear. As we come into his
presence, his radiance, everything else becomes unimportant, caught up with
Jesus into a place where all we want to do is worship him. Very often we never
get to that place - when we do, we don't want to leave it - it's a wrench to
Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are
weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn
from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your
Where are you on the
journey into God's presence? What obstacles do you still need to remove? With
clean hands and a pure heart, you can dwell in his presence and find rest for