If I had to choose several words to describe the world in 2016, I would choose between urgent, agitation, frustration, insecurity, warning, and attention! For some, with all that is going on, it is hard to find a sense of direction and motivation. With all that is happening, it is difficult to disconnect and rest. With all the urgency, it is nearly impossible to hold on to clarity and priorities! And, in the end, it leaves us feeling busy and getting nowhere.
For those following Jesus, there is an increased sense that we must do something! To use Jesus's words, we must bear fruit. In other words, we are ambassadors of Jesus, representing his love, nature, and power to a lost and hurting world. We cannot just watch the world go down the drain without somehow getting involved and helping. We shouldn’t stand idly by as hurting people suffer and perish. The problems are visible and everywhere. There is increased stress in the hearts and minds of our friends and family, and we are left with a growing sense that we should have a solution.
However, most of us are also struggling with the same burdens we see around us. We are pressed and overwhelmed, and the more we try to help the more helpless we feel. Instead of jumping in and saving the day, we are hoping the next guy comes along and rescues us! So, how in the world are we going to bear fruit in this condition?
There is a biblical secret to bearing fruit, and I am going to share it with you! First, let me hit you with a few verses. See if you can spot the similarities.
John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 30:15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." But you were unwilling,
Did you see it? Did you notice? The secret to bearing fruit is rest. A seed can’t grow unless it stays in the soil, and a branch can’t produce fruit unless it stays connected to the vine. In the same way, unless we rest in the Lord, we will never bear fruit. Just look at the verse from Isaiah! Returning, rest, quietness and trust produces strength and salvation! If we wait upon the Lord, we will renew our strength. That is what we desperately need.
So... the big point... What is this "Rest" (with a capital R), and how do we do it?
It is not sleeping, vacations or entertainment. It is not avoiding issues and hiding. We must look at Jesus’s life to see it. He often got alone with the Father, re-establishing himself in his identity and source. He would skip sleep for a whole night just to be sure he had entered into Rest with Father, God. Think about that for a moment.
The problem we have is that too many of us are so busy with life, we don’t take the time to sink our roots deep in God and nourish our famished souls. And the busier we get, the more we justify the fact that we are neglecting the single most important aspect of our life; our relationship with God. No wonder we are overwhelmed by the problems that face us.
To enter the rest of God means that we are saying there is no higher priority than drawing near to father God in personal prayer, worship, and bible study. We have many responsibilities, but entering God’s rest and staying connected with Jesus is a higher responsibility. I’m a husband, a father, a pastor, a brother, and a friend, but what is more important than all that is the fact that I belong to Christ and he is calling me to quiet myself and spend time with him.
Don’t let anything hinder your rest. I am sure you feel the call of God on your heart to stop what you are doing, pick up your bible, and seek him. All you have to do is act on that call. Make reconnecting with Christ on a regular basis your #1 goal, no matter what you lose in the process. For once you enter your rest, you will begin to bear more fruit than you ever thought possible.