Saturday Morning, 15 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 9:1-10 ~ Jesus provides free access to God

Saturday Morning

+ 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.
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Reading from the Book of Hebrews: Hebrews 9:1-10 (NLT)

Old Rules about Worship

That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.

This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
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Morning Reflection:

By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed
that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open
as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.
– Hebrews 9:8

Today’s reading continues the explanation of why the new covenant is superior to the old – specifically that, under the old covenant access was limited to God’s Presence (the Most Holy Place), and the sacrificial offerings were inadequate (required repetition). The Tabernacle is used as an illustration because of its association with the giving of the Old Covenant to Moses at Mount Sinai.

The point being made is that the old system of worship did not meet the deepest need of God’s people, i.e. an intimate personal relationship with God. Its rites and ceremonies extended mainly to external matters until God would provide a better system at “a time of reformation.”

Questions for consideration:

  • What’s the difference between approaching God, through ritual or relationship? Please explain.
  • What role does ritual have in your relationship with God? Please explain.
  • Do you consider yourself as having free access to God? Yes / No. Please explain.
  • Do you have a clear conscience, i.e. a conscience that is right with God? Please explain.
  • If you are not sure, please click here.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Make us one, across all denominational lines, in our mission to care for of widows and orphans, young and old, weak and ill, disabled and distressed. Pour out your Spirit and usher in a season of refreshment that provides new energy and clarity for all who labor to protect human life – from fertilization until natural death. I ask this in Jesus’ name, the Lord of Life. Amen.

Prayer for a Clear Conscience:

“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” 

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“Take Me In” – Petra

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Closing:

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

Saturday Morning, 08 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 4:1-18 ~ Jesus is our High Priest.

Saturday Morning

+ 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.
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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.
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Morning Reflection:

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 –

  1. Heaven – by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and with faith comes faithfulness and obedience.
  2. Present rest in the enjoyment of our riches in Christ – by surrendering our lives to Him and enjoying peace with God now.
  3. Future enjoyment of our full inheritance in Christ – everything that God desires to bestow on us when we see Him face to face.
  4. Some particular blessing in the end times – rewards, or crowns, associated with Jesus’ return and the final judgement.
  5. 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.

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Morning Prayer:

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.

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Before the Throne of God Above – Selah

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Closing:

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