Works Matter

Revelation 14:13   (KJV)   13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14.13 - Works MatterSalvation, death, resurrection, rest, works—these are indispensable truths and experiences in the lives of believers.

Being “in the Lord” is the most important experience anyone can ever have here on earth. It’s the only experience that changes and secures our eternal destiny—from an eternal destiny apart from Christ to an eternal destiny in His presence. All of us, except those alive when our precious Lord returns, will experience death. For us believers, it is a most welcome transition to the most glorious state we’ll ever enjoy in our entire existence—a life of rest, love, joy, peace multiplied a gazillion times greater.

In as much as often undermined in teaching the wonders of grace, works matter. They matter now, they will matter in eternity. It’s worth repeating: we’re not saved by works, but we’re saved unto good works.  For believers, it’s not “either-or” between grace and works; it’s both. Grace is God’s part and He does wonders with it; works is our part and we strive to do well in it.

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Fall Not

2 Peter 1:10   (KJV)   10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

2 Peter 1.10 - Fall NotWe are humbly grateful to the LORD our God and heavenly Father for giving us assurance of our salvation. We don’t have to guess; we don’t have to doubt; we rest in it. We don’t take this lightly; instead, we “give diligence to make our calling and election sure.”

How do we do that? Praise God, he makes it very clear: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Diligence as a believer is of tremendous importance. Resting in Jesus isn’t the same as being lazy and passive. We bear the Spirit’s fruit by diligently working out what He’s working in. We’re told repeatedly by people not to doubt our salvation; we’re also admonished by the Scriptures to test whether or not we’re in the faith, and to confirm our calling and election. By doing so, through His empowerment, we stand strongly and walk faithfully.

Let Us Fear?

Hebrews 4:1   (KJV)   4 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

There are healthy fears, and this is one of them. This is a concluding statement after a warning about hardening of hearts, turning away from God, and failing to enter God’s rest. Praise God; the promise of entering into His rest still stands. However, the Hebrews 4.1 - Let us Fearpossibility of coming short of entering that rest also exists.

God is still so graciously offering His rest to us. How we believers interpret the meaning of coming short of it—failing to enter that rest—may differ, but the seriousness and gravity of the admonition ought to neither be overlooked nor undermined. The blessing offered is very great, it’s just befitting that we take careful and sure steps in our pilgrimage: to have good, right, and godly attitude in all this.

John the Beloved wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18); the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore fear…” They may seem contradictory, but they are complementary. My humble take: Perfect love casts out fear, except fear of God. We can elaborate and expand on that proposition ad infinitum, but the Scripture is very clear and explicit. To discard one is to err.

Spheres of Christian Existence

Luke 2:39   (KJV)   39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

We as believers live in variety of spheres: there’s the personal, the familial, the ecclesiastical, and the vocational, professional, or social. The most important is our personal relationship with God. This is our utmost priority. Next responsibility we have is luke-2-39-spheres-of-christian-existenceour family. This doesn’t take precedence over our relationship with God, but we don’t neglect this. The next is our ministry. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God and our family, but we serve our spiritual family and serve in the church. Next is the world around us. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God, etc., but we reach out to them and serve them.

There have been quite a few times when I met different people who were very vocal about their spirituality and their knowledge about the Bible. But when I asked them about their spiritual families (their local churches in particular), they told me that they don’t attend church. I’ve also met people who told me that their family is their church. I remember reaching out to a pastor friend of mine because not only has he stopped living out his calling, he and his entire family even stopped attending church. When I encouraged him to keep “pursuing” his call, he told me that he is pastoring—he’s pastoring his family. I explained to him that yes, we do “pastor” our families—they’re our responsibilities—the familial sphere, but he still had to serve in the context of being a part of the body of Christ. Sad to say, he didn’t change. By the time of this writing, it breaks my heart that his children are still lost.

Different spheres, different responsibilities, proper priorities. God gives us time for all of them. We’re not accountable for what we don’t have. We have twenty four hours a day, seven days a week; we juggle through all our complex schedules and indispensable responsibilities. We don’t neglect any of them. With the right priorities, proper balance, and good time management, we enjoy life to the fullest, yet relaxed and rested. We’re not stressed; we love life; people enjoy our presence; God’s pleased. Thank You Lord for a wonderful life.

Rest

Luke 23:56   (KJV)   56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

Rest is needed; it’s not negotiable; it’s a must. Even if our work has to do with the Kingdom of God, there comes a time when we need to pack-up, drop what we do and wait. luke-23-56-resRest is obedience to God. Some of us feel guilty when we’re not doing anything, but giving our bodies and mind a break is godly. God want us to work; He also wants us to rest. He sees wisdom in ceasing from our daily routine and having some kind of recharging. His invitation still stands: “Come to Me, those of you who are tired and weary and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” He commands us to rest; His arms are extended; it’s there we go and let go.

There are people who take extended rest periods; this is not right either; laziness is never condoned by God. But there are people who are just overworked; some of them are workaholics—they seem to really love and enjoy working; they seem to get energized when they work; some of them just work out of “necessity.” Truth be told, many work more hours than needed to provide for excesses and live up to the standard of success defined by society.

Yes, there are hardships in life, but many of them may be self-inflicted. There are those who work so hard to enjoy life, but they don’t really get to enjoy it as much because they spend so much time working. They’re missing out on way more important things in life. There is a time to stop, to unwind, to re-energize. There is a time to be repeatedly and regularly reminded of the pre-eminence of God and His faithfulness to us. He provides all our needs according to His riches in glory. He doesn’t need us to over-extend ourselves for Him to fulfill His promise. Yes, we have projects to finish, but there’s always another day; we don’t push it when we don’t need to. Yes, we have deadlines, but instead of violating our much needed “rest-recovery-recoup-refocus-dedicated to honoring God” day, we kick back, relax, and enjoy our day with the Lord.

Well Rested

Psalm 127:2   (KJV)   2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

How many people lack sleep because they’re trying their best to earn more so that they have more security for their future and their family’s future? We probably know not just some, but many. This ought to not be so. God wants us to have enough sleep. He wants us to rest. Our provision and prosperity comes from Him. He’s the One Who gives us the power to get wealth. The fruitfulness of our labor is ultimately ordered by Him.

psalm-127-2-well-rested

God wants us to have rest. Let me clarify: He doesn’t want us lazy, complacent, or mediocre; He wants us to live excellently, committed, devoted, loyal, diligent, and industrious, but He doesn’t want us killing ourselves with work. Those who do are doing more than God intends them to. He wants us to enjoy life. But some may say, “I enjoy my work;” that may be true, but God also loves His people; He loves His body; He loves His temple, and we are His temple. He’s a good God; He’s a good Father; He invites us to come to Him—all of us who are tired and are heavily burdened, and He gives us rest. Yes, of all the kinds of rest, our spiritual rest is of utmost importance, but His invitation does cover our entire being.

There is a time for everything, meaning: there’s a time to work, and a time to rest; there’s a time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. And enjoying it, we do, not just for a very short time between two or three jobs, but sufficient time to rest. We’re not consumed by worry and anxiety thinking about possibility of lack. No…The Lord is our Shepherd; we have everything we need. We work hard; we get enough sleep, enjoying time and fellowship with our heavenly Dad before we finally retire for the day. We wake up—with praises in our hearts, mind, and lips. And we start our day spending wonderful time of fellowship with Dad again. We work; we play; we pray; we retire—always with peace, knowing that as we faithfully take care of Dad’s gifts to us: eternal and temporal, our Dad sees to it that everything’s well with us.

Work and Rest

Mark‬ ‭6:31‬   (KJV‬‬)   And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Work well; rest well.

God cares for us–His workers, as much as He cares for the people; His workers–we, are not just a part of the people; we are His people.

To work is godly; to rest is as godly. We don’t feel guilty when we rest as long as we are faithful in our work.

There’s a big difference between resting from labor and resting without labor; the latter is simply laziness.