+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading from the Book of Hebrews: Hebrews 4:10-18 (NLT)
Promised Rest for God’s People
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
Christ Is Our High Priest
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Come to Jesus and Enter God’s Rest
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands,
so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
– Hebrews 4:1
What is the “rest” promised in today’s reading? Here are five different ways of looking at it –
- Heaven – by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and with faith comes faithfulness and obedience.
- Present rest in the enjoyment of our riches in Christ – by surrendering our lives to Him and enjoying peace with God now.
- Future enjoyment of our full inheritance in Christ – everything that God desires to bestow on us when we see Him face to face.
- Some particular blessing in the end times – rewards, or crowns, associated with Jesus’ return and the final judgement.
- A peaceful life now as Christians – through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his word, even in the face of persecution.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
– Hebrews 4:16
In one way or another, God’s promised rest is predicated on the grace of his covenantal faithfulness, and our faith in his Son, Jesus Christ – who is our Great High Priest. It’s through Jesus Christ that we can receive God’s mercy and help when we need it most. And it’s through Jesus Christ that we can enter into God’s rest, however we may view it.
Questions for consideration:
- As you review the ways of viewing God’s promised rest, which of these are most appealing to you, given your present circumstances? Please explain.
- How then should you pray, given your understanding of God’s rest? Please explain.
- Have you entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Yes/No/Don’t Know? Click here for more information.
- Faith in Jesus Christ involves trusting and obeying him. How is God applying this to your life today? Please explain.
Life Support Prayer:
Heavenly Father: I pray for advocates for life in every congregation to trust in Jesus, and to pour out unreserved love to followers of Jesus at every stage of life. And, I pray for Pro-Life leaders around the world to lead with intelligence, to know Jesus personally, to have clear focus, to follow Christ closely, to trust him fully, and to serve Christ and his church with “endless energy and boundless strength.” In Jesus’ name and for your glory, I pray. Amen.
My Prayer: For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, into your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Before the Throne of God Above – Selah
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Categories: Life in Christ