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Ahhhhhhh – Worry-free living! Just the thought of it brings people hope.
Could it really be possible? Is there really a way I can get out from underneath the stress of life and live the way Jesus lived?
Although Jesus was surrounded by dysfunctional disciples and finicky pharisees who’s nagging would drive even the most godly saint crazy, Jesus always remained calm and in control of each situation.
One of the reasons, among many, that people loved to follow Jesus so much was because they saw and felt the peace He lived in. It was contagious being around someone, Who no matter what the problem, didn’t let it change Him but instead brought change to the problem.
Jesus knew who He was and Whose He was and He wasn’t about to miss time with His Father for anything, no matter what else He had to miss. The Bible says He often slipped away to pray. (see Luke 5:16)
He didn’t come to win a popularity contest, but instead purposely made himself of no reputation. He fed more than 5,000 people at one time. Matthew tells us that the number of those who ate that day was about 5,000 men, besides women and children. (see Matthew 14:13-21).
He walked on the water and taught His disciples a lesson about faith standing on top of the sea during a raging storm. He raised Lazarus after being dead for four days! I love what Jesus prays in verse 41 and 42 of John 11. Look at this. He had absolute confidence in His Father.
41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me. 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. – John 11:41-43 (NASB)
Could it be that one of the biggest things that keeps us from living in God’s rest is a lack of genuine trust in our heavenly Father? What if we truly believed God heard us every time we prayed? What if we really rested in what Jesus has already accomplished on our behalf at Calvary?
Here is a list of synonyms for the word rest I found at Thesaurus.com. Just reading this list makes me feel like I am on a mini-vacation!
break, breather, breathing space, calm, calmness, cessation, coffee break, comfort, composure, cutoff, downtime, doze, dreaminess, ease, forty winks, halt, holiday, hush, idleness, interlude, intermission, interval, leisure, letup, lull, motionlessness, nap, pause, peace, quiescence, quiet, quietude, recess, recreation, refreshment, relaxation, relief, repose, respite, siesta, silence, sleep, slumber, somnolence, standstill, stay, stillness, stop, time off, tranquillity, vacation
Everyone wants to live in rest and the Bible actually tells us to strive for this type of living but look at what Hebrews 3:19 says about the Israelites who God miraculously delivered out of Egypt.
So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter His rest. (NLT)
Now let’s back up in this chapter and look at this group of verses:
12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still today, so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. (NLT)
This is certainly what was keeping me out of the rest of God for so many years.
- I said I believed God but many times I didn’t. I prayed, but then I worried.
- I would give a situation to God but then I would take it back and try to reason out the answer myself.
- I would say, O.K. God, I want You to be in the driver’s seat of my life, but then I kept ignoring His direction and tried to take back the steering wheel again and again.
Just as unbelief, which resulted in all kinds of sin, kept most of the original group of Israelites that God brought out of Egypt from entering the promised land, our unbelief today also keeps us from entering into all that God has in store for us.
I love my Aunt Carolyn, my Dad’s sister. She is such an inspiration to me and one of the people, among many, who God has used in my life over the years to teach me about faith. I ALWAYS call Aunt Carolyn if I need the prayer of agreement over something because she is very consistent in her walk of faith. After talking to her I always hang up the phone thinking, Well, that prayer is as good as answered, and it is absolutely uncanny the number of times I end up calling her back days later telling her the testimonies of these answered prayers. She recently encouraged me in a decision I need to make, saying, Just take it to the Lord and He will show you exactly what to do.
These kinds of people are invaluable in our lives and we should all pray to be this kind of person (an inspiration) in other people’s lives, by God’s grace. It’s the Aunt Carolyn’s in life that God uses to turn the course of someone’s destiny by reminding them over an over and over again about God’s character and the importance of trusting in Him!
I know there are people reading this blog post that are probably thinking, I want to believe and be a person full of faith, but I don’t know how to get there. Well, I certainly can’t promise all the answers for your journey because I am a lifetime learner just like you, taking this journey one day at a time. But I can share with you some of the key truths that helped me make the transition from anxiety to rest.
1.) I started believing that Jesus truly loves me with an everlasting love and that He is interested in everything that concerns me, including my success.
Remember though, that the world defines success differently than God in many cases. I could have all the money in the world, but if I have a husband and kids that can’t stand me, that is not success.
My definition of success is knowing that Jesus is with me all the time.
Jesus is with me when I need to work out a difference of opinion with my husband and it is His will that I have a successful marriage. Jesus is with me when I need strength because one of my kids has just asked me their 100th question for the day while I am in the middle of having a hot flash, but still wanting to respond calmly to them. And Jesus is with me as I continue to believe that God’s perfect will for my life and for my family’s lives is being unfolded. He is right there, holding our hand, guiding us every step of the way.
It’s this confidence in understanding the way Jesus feels about you that will give you the boldness to step out and try something new that you feel God is leading you to.
Here is a great scripture that encourages us not to fear, but instead to remember that God loves us and wants to give us the kingdom. Do you know what the kingdom is? It is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! (see Romans 14:17)
What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. – Luke 12:29-32 (MSG)
I just saw these verses in the Message for the first time the other day. Wow! I love the part about us knowing God and the way He works. It’s so true! The more I continue to know God and the more I place my faith in the way He works, the more rest I live in and this will also happen to you because the Word of God does not return void but will accomplish whatever God wants and will achieve whatever He sent it to do (see Isaiah 55:11).
Did these verses above just say that God will take care of us? Yes! Then we can believe it because it is true! To help our believing along, we can immerse ourselves in God-reality (the truth about God), God-initiative (God inspired action), and God-provisions (God’s Word and His presence)!
Jesus not only wants you to have a successful life, He is your success. So whatever you do, don’t leave Jesus to go chase after stuff. Jesus will give you success in every area of your life according to His will for you, as you rest in Him!
2.) I started believing that I am truly forgiven when I sin because of the finished work of the cross.
Some may ask, What does this have to do with me living in rest? Everything… because if you are walking around sin-conscious and condemned all the time, it’s impossible for you to consistently live in God’s rest.
You might remain in rest if you have several sin-free days in a row (is that even possible?), but if your confidence is resting upon your perfect performance, it won’t last very long.
You see, Steve and I used to think we were in God’s good graces when we were good and out of God’s good graces when we were bad. Needless to say, we felt very insecure in our standing with God and also insecure in other areas, including our marriage, our parenting and every other relationship in our lives.
Of course, most of the people that all of us are in relationship with are also insecure, at least in some way, and some are extremely insecure. So… what we have is insecure people in relationship with other insecure people. Fun times. (Yes, I’m being sarcastic!)
You don’t need me to tell you how difficult these insecurities makes it to keep good relationships because we all understand and have a truckload of experience in this area. I’ll tell you what I have noticed though. Confidence is contagious. I’m not talking about cockiness, which comes from being confident in ourself. I’m talking about God-confidence. The more a person knows who they are NOT in themselves and who they ARE in Christ and that they are forgiven because of the shed blood of Jesus, the more pleasant they are to be around.
When Jesus died for us He paid for all of our sins past, present and future sins. (see Hebrews 10:8-14). Actually, I highly recommend that you read the entire chapter of Hebrews 10. You WILL be encouraged!
Am I saying that repentance is not important? No, because taking responsibility for our sin and turning and going in the other direction as we see sin in our lives is important. It is just that we don’t have to repent in order to merit God’s love and forgiveness, but we repent because of an understanding that we are already completely loved and completely forgiven by Him.
It’s His goodness that leads us to repentance (see Romans 2:4) and I think we can all agree that the fact that all our sins are forgiven – past, present and future – is definitely God’s goodness in our lives. Today, you can be honest with your Heavenly Father about your mistakes and failures, knowing that He loves you and has already forgiven you. Receive by faith what Jesus’ finished work on the cross has already provided for you.
Of course, this is a journey, hence the title of the blog post, The Journey To Worry-Free Living. No one has arrived, but the great news is that we can all rest in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness toward us as we depend on the Holy Spirit to produce godly fruit in our lives! (see Galatians 5:22-23)
3.) I started really believing I could enter into the presence of God, even if I had not been perfect that day, knowing that in His presence I would find the help I needed!
Hebrews 4:15-16 say,
15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (AMP)
You know how it feels to have someone in your life that you think may be mad at you. You wonder and wonder if everything is OK or if you are on shaky ground with them. Sometimes it can even cause you to feel you just can’t measure up, no matter how hard you try.
My opinion is that some, probably even many people, feel like this in their relationship with God. They either try so hard to please Him that they just about kill themselves in the process (like I did), or they just give up all together because they figure, “I will never be able to get it all right anyway.” To make matters worse, our brothers and sisters in Christ can sometimes add to our dilemma.
Last year we had two different groups of parents over to our home for a one night small group session on parenting. We watched a Joseph Prince parenting video called ‘Parenting With Grace’ and had a discussion afterwords. One of the things that Pastor Prince talked about was parents not really taking the time to listen to and understand their kids, but just preaching to them all the time instead.
In each group, during discussion, we had one person who brought out the fact that it was so frustrating to them when they try to share something difficult they are going through in life and their Christian friend just starts spouting scripture instead of really taking the time to listen and understand. Of course, other parents in the small groups agreed right away, saying that they had also encountered this experience when attempting to open up to fellow Christians.
It is sad, but true, that many Christians can’t allow their friends to just be real with them about the fact that they struggle sometimes. If they do, many times their so called Christian friends will just start preaching to them, saying something like…you just need to have more faith.
Honestly, I think people react this way toward others because it’s the way they fearfully perceive God being toward them. Maybe they also feel that they cannot go to God with their personal struggles and just be honest with Him. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Even as I was coming out of this wrong mindset about God, I would catch myself checking and counting how many times I had messed up before entering into His presence and even then I certainly wasn’t coming to His throne boldly.
Of course this number 3 is very closely connected with number 2 because when we know we are forgiven, it takes away the apprehension we feel; therefore, causing us to come into His presence more boldly.
God actually loves for us to come to Him about anything and everything we are going through. He just wants us to feel we can lay it all out before Him, knowing that He will not reject us but will be right there with us, helping us rest in the victory Jesus provided for us to live in!
One night about 2 months ago my husband Steve and I got into a fight. He said something to me that made me so mad and I immediately started praying, Oh God help me, I need Your grace because Steve just said something that made me so mad. Help me, please help me.
Do you know that within a couple of minutes God turned my anger into compassion for my husband and I was able to forgive him easily by God’s grace!
This was such a great lesson for me of how, even when I totally opened up to God telling Him that I was mad at my husband, He didn’t run away and plug His ears. He gave me the grace to get past being angry by helping me see the real problem.
If I would have refused to come into the presence of God for help because I felt guilty and condemned for being mad at my husband, I would still be trying to get over being angry. In fact, by this time, my anger probably would have turned to bitterness and resentment.
Hmmmm – let’s review my choices again. Maybe an hour max to let God make a heart change in me, helping me want to forgive… or… frustrate myself beyond belief for months trying, in my own strength, to not feel mad? No contest. This is not the first time I have experienced God quickly and completely changing my feelings as I have submitted them to His grace by going boldly to His throne.
In all fairness to Steve, I know I said things that night that also made him mad. There are two sides to every story. The great news is that because we submitted the situation to God’s grace, He is using it to catapult our marriage to a brand new level for His glory!
4.) I started believing that because Jesus is with me everywhere I go, I could stop trying to produce favorable results in my own strength and I started depending on Jesus’ unmerited favor instead.
You talk about a burden being lifted, start believing and living like this!
About 6 months ago I was asked to give a testimony at church and got invited to do my first speaking engagement all in the same week. The natural tendency of our flesh is to go into anxiety mode, wondering if we are going to do OK.
I’ve learned the answer is not a chance – not on our own, without the power of the Holy Spirit.
So most of the time I don’t even ask myself that question any longer. When I was asked to speak twice in one week, I simply said, God, I depend on Your unmerited favor to help me say what You know the people listening need. Then I prepared for both of these things in prayer, Bible study and making notes to use.
Of course, since I was depending on the Holy Spirit (my Helper) and not myself, they both went great and I don’t have a problem telling you this because I think I have made it very clear that I am very aware that this was only possible through God’s grace!
I will tell you what is going to happen over time with these new beliefs I am encouraging you to adopt. Eventually they will become your default reaction.
If you have a temptation to be fearful, instead of worrying, your first reaction will be, God loves me and He is taking care of me. I know because this is what has happened to me. If you only knew how much I used to worry. I am so glad God has changed my default reactions!
If the devil tries to bury you in condemnation, your new default reaction will be, Oh no you don’t devil, I am forgiven because of the blood of Jesus and I will walk in the power of that forgiveness instead of condemnation. You will get to the point where you will get very good at running quickly to Father God, even when you have sinned, so you can receive mercy and grace to help in your time of need.
As far as living in God’s unmerited favor, I started getting the biggest kick out of trusting in God as opposed to my old way of life, trusting in myself. I am confident your automatic default will also change from trusting in yourself to trusting in God!
But these are not concepts that I have merely thought about one time and then they were automatically secured deep in my heart. These are Biblical truths that I have meditated on over and over and over, even many times, on a daily basis and I continue to do so in order to remain strong in the faith.
So, you see, there is a way to get free from worry. It is possible but it is a journey. I have probably just touched the tip of the iceberg here in giving you things that will help you go in the right direction and God may use some of my experiences to bring even more ideas to you.
One thing you will notice about the four things I talked about above is that they all have to do with your believing. I prefer to help you change your believing over giving you four more things you have to remember to do in order to live in rest. If I can encourage you to trust the Holy Spirit to change your believing, you will be surprised to find that out of your right believing the right actions will follow!
- When you believe God loves you, you will find your insecurities melting away and being replaced by confidence.
- When you place your trust in God’s unmerited favor in your life instead of your own wisdom or ability, you will be less self-conscious. Your trust in God will instead produce Christ-consciousness and humility.
- As your mind is renewed in believing each one of these four truths, you will experience wonderful benefits!
I have learned a lot from the Bible over my 35 years as a Christian and of course the things I learned have benefited me in many ways, but it wasn’t until I started learning these particular things I have shared with you (which are also straight out of the Bible), that I was able to lay aside worry and trust in my Savior like I really needed to.
Matthew 11:28 says,
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] (AMP)
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!