Jesus I am resting, resting, In the joy of what Thou art, I am finding out the greatness, Of Thy loving heart,
Thou hast bid me gaze upon me, And Thy beauty fills my soul, For, by Thy transforming power, Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art, I am finding out the greatness, Of Thy loving heart.
This is one of my favourite hymns and we sing it so heartily, but as we really think of the words, do we really know what it means?
What does it mean when we are told by God to – rest in him?1 We are also exhorted to – wait patiently for the Lord2 – so what does this really mean? There is one big problem that has been connected with these verses that many of God’s people have been deceived with for many centuries – passivity! Even in past times when churches were churches and God was obviously among His people, there was great confusion over this issue.
It was the thought by some that they had to wait to be told by the Holy Spirit exactly what to do, what service to be engaged in, so they sat and sang and sang but never did anything that proved they were God’s people.
There is so much to do in our communities that only the gospel can achieve and if the people of God fail to do it, then it doesn’t get done and society slides into an ever increasing downward spiral of misery and degeneration. We do not have to be told what to do by any special revelation of the Holy Spirit, the Bible clearly tells us, about 20 times, that Christians ‘do good works’. Doing good works, is doing God’s work, that’s how His people are seen as Christians. We might be on our way to heaven, saved by the grace of God, but we will not be a Christian, in the Biblical sense of the word, until we are characterised before our communities by those good works that – are prepared for us from before the world was made, Eph 2;10. This is what James means when he says – faith without works is dead! Jam 2;14-26.
Too many churches think that the gospel is a message of words; it is partly, but unless those words are backed up by good works, the words will be meaningless; in fact – mere hypocrisy. Gospel = good news! If a church is not involved in a ministry of good works to the community, all its work is actually a hindrance to the gospel and the work of God. Can’t we see why our preaching has been such a spectacular failure for so long? There are many reasons behind the thousands of church closures over the last 50 years but the lack of good works figures high on the list!
So we do not have to wait patiently for God to tell us what to do, especially as local churches, it is our responsibility to get on and help the poor and needy. And note, the ‘poor and needy’ today in the west, is not solely a financial need; although – we always will have the poor among us! John 12;8. Our secular society is an empty and hurting society and the gospel is what it needs to see and hear. ‘See’ – first; ‘hear’ – second!
Now, this can only be achieved if we are totally motivated by the love of Christ. Agape love is the only way that these good works can be maintained long enough to be effective and fruitful. It is only as we really are in love with Jesus that this motivation can be achieved and it is found in the secret place with Him. This is – resting, resting! Here is where ‘waiting on God’ comes into reality and it is only proved by maintaining those good works in our communities.
What is this waiting on God? It is that all important sanctification process of dealing with our sin and failure. We will have to be absolutely mortified by our sin. Like Isaiah as he sees the glory of God filling the Temple he sees just how vile he was. Now Isaiah was a very good man, a prince, a prophet ye when he saw God he knew ho awful he was. It was not something he had done, it was himself, his vile flesh. This is the end place of true sanctification and we come to that brokenness that will have great reward.
A contrite and a broken spirit is what God is looking for, this is where He can pour in that great love of His. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5;1. Oh yes, this is the only place where we can ‘know’ the King. This is where the pretence and sham falls away and we see our desperate need of Jesus. When only he is enough, we find faith to go a tell these people, just like Isaiah did. In a church context that ‘telling’ is coupled with good works.
For may people it is a case of becoming poor that takes them to realise their need of God. Times of real trouble bring people to their knees, literally! They realise they can’t cope; so Luke’s record is so apt – Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God! 6;21. Why do we wait to then to receive? We still haven’t grasped the reality of that other scripture – it is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20;35. When we really receive from God then we are able to give, generously!
The end and goal of sanctification is worship, communion with the King. Knowing the King is the greatest experience that a man and woman can ever have, this is worship; this is what will last for all eternity where all our intimacies will be with God. To ‘know’ Jesus is what we were created for. Ah yes, we are all part of the ‘all things’ that He created for Himself. This is the greatest desire, just as David prayed 3000 years ago; and Stuart Townend puts it so well in his lovely hymn -You are my anchor – the chorus says –
One thing I will ask of You, this will I pray,
To dwell in Your house O Lord, every day
To gaze upon Your lovely face,
And rest in the Father’s embrace.
The gospel can make that potential a reality! We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we know the true God. We live in union with the true God—in union with his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and this is eternal life, 1John 5;20. Anything less is Satan’s lies.
Running around to conferences and meetings all the time is not Christianity. Reading your Bible, even studying it, is not Christianity. Preaching on street corners, or in pulpits, is not Christianity. Going on mission trips is not even Christianity, if good works are not part of it. But, when we faithfully do the good works that the Bible tells us to do, then sometimes, for some of us, the Holy Spirit might have some special mission work for us to do which He will reveal to us, in no uncertain terms!
Good works, which is good living, makes the teaching of our Lord Jesus attractive to our families, friends, in fact, to the whole community. Titus 2;1-10. Good works makes the gospel message relevant and that must be the first step in evangelism to a secular society. This is the message of Christmas! Giving of gifts is popular at this time of year, but if they are only wrapped in pretty paper they don’t fit the bill. We have to give of ourselves, we have to love. And sometimes we have to love the unlovable! But that is not a problem to agape!
So let’s find our true resting place in Jesus, so that we can be motivated and empowered to get out and show others how to do the same! Here is the rest of that great hymn –
Oh, how great Thy loving kindness, Vaster, broader, than the sea, Oh, how marvellous Thy goodness, Yes, I rest in Thee beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine, Know Thy certainty of promise, And have made it mine.
Simply trusting Thee Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, And Thy love so pure so changeless, Satisfies my heart.
Satisfies its deepest longings, Meets, supplies its every need, Compasseth me round with blessings; Thine is love indeed.
Ever lift Thy face upon me, As I wait and work for Thee, Resting ‘neath Thy smile Lord Jesus, Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory, Sunshine of my Father’s face, Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Thy grace.
Here are some of the ‘Good Works’ verses of the BIble –
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Or as The Message Bible puts it – Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand–shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Heb 13:21May this God of peace prepare you to do every goodthing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Peter’s take – 1Pet 2:12Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you as if you were doing wrong while they are watching you do good things, they will praise God on the day he comes to help you.
1Pe 3:10-11“People who want to live a full life and enjoy good days must keep their tongues from saying evil things, and their lips from speaking deceitful things. (11) They must turn away from evil and do good. They must seek peace and pursue it.
John’s input – 1John 3:17If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something good about it, but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
3John 1:11Dear friend, never imitate evil, but imitate good. The person who does good is from God. The person who does evil has never seen God.
More of Paul’s take – Rom 3;13, 2Cor 9;8, Gal 4;18, 6;10, Eph 4;28, Col 1;10, 2Thes 2;17, 1Tim 2;10, 5;10, 5;25, 6;18, 2Tim 2;21, 3;17, Tit 2;7, 2;14, 3;1, 3;8, 3;14. Isn’t that enough to show that good works are a very important issue!
1Psa 37;7 – Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Or in The Message – Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top