Sunday, December 11, 2016

"RESTING in Jesus Christ!"

Day #347

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 1 - 4 ...

When the pace of life gets hectic we search for rest, often not knowing what we are even looking for.  When trials come and we become overwhelmed with sorrow or despair we look for rest.  We as human beings find it impossible to find rest, spiritual REST ... because we are looking in all the wrong places!  There is only ONE place to find it:  in Jesus Christ.  The rest we crave is rest from the power of sin and its consequences.  Only God can give you and me the rest we long for.

The writer of Hebrews states, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience" (4:9-11).  GOD's rest is goodness and perfection.  God created everything and said it was good, it was perfect, and man was VERY good, created in the image of God.  Sin did not exist.  All was well.  So God rested from His labors ... until Satan's rebellion in heaven and his temptation of Adam and Eve and their fall into sin and disobedience.

Spiritual death and unrest plagues mankind like an epidemic.  But GOD has the cure ... the ONLY cure!!  "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (1:1-2).  Do not pass by the first five words:  "In the past GOD SPOKE!"  We worship and serve a God who SPEAKS!!  God could have left the entire human race in the spiritual darkness of sin, spiritually dead and unable to know God or to enter His rest, but instead, He determined to save some through ... a message ... a message of "good news," the Gospel.  Most think the Gospel was first preached following the resurrection of Jesus, but the writer of Hebrews says here, "We also have had the gospel preached to us, JUST AS THEY DID" ... But the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith" (4:2).

Something happened following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ... something so significant that it changed the course of human history.  Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross and in His resurrection, and then, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, He sent forth His Holy Spirit into the world to open the eyes of the blind, to open deaf ears, to transform closed minds, to revive dead hearts ... to open the door to God's rest, to eternal salvation, to a new heaven and a new earth where everything will be restored to its original perfection and where we who believe will live in the very presence of God - FOREVER!!  Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves!

Having explained the uniqueness of Jesus in Chapter 1, we hear God's warning through the words of the writer of Hebrews in Chapter 2:  "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away ... how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" (2:1-2).  The eternal Son of God became a man "so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (2:14-15).  He goes on to say that it is "Abraham's descendants" (believers - Galatians 3:29) that Jesus came to help.  "He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people" (2:17-18).  

"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess" (3:1).  How often do you think about Jesus?  Do hours or days go by without you considering what He has done for you, that even now He intercedes for you before the Father, that by His Spirit He empowers you to overcome the sin that remains within you?  Faith in Jesus is not a one-time declaration or a momentary moment of guilt that drives you to cry out for a Savior.  Faith in Jesus is entering God's rest ... resting from YOUR work and trusting in HIS (4:10).  The "effort" we put forth (4:11) is in keeping our eyes on Jesus and trusting that "He who began a good work in 'us' will bring it to completion" on that day when we enter into His perfect rest.

God declared that most of those in the past would not enter His rest because they did not trust in His promise of a Savior.  They trusted instead in their own works, as so many do today.  These, too, will not enter God's rest, though they declare their faith in Jesus ... for God knows their hearts.  "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" (4:12-14).  That confidence is that "Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe ... sin had left a crimson stain, HE washed it white as snow!"  You are washed by the blood of Jesus or you are still in your sin. There is no other way to enter the Father's rest!

"Since we have a great High Priest ... let us hold firmly to the faith we profess" (4:14).  Do not give in to the temptation to doubt, even for a moment! moment!  "There remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God ... Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest" ... fixing our thoughts on Jesus ... our Savior, our Mediator, our Redeemer, our Lord!!!  Rest in Jesus Christ today and you will find rest for your soul!!

"I thank You, Father, for speaking in Your Word and for giving me ears to hear as Your Spirit works within me.  I trust in Jesus for all I need to stand PERFECT in Your holy presence, resting in HIS righteousness, which has been credited to me by faith.  I confess that I HAVE BEEN SAVED by grace through faith - and that this is YOUR gift to me.  Let my life be a testimony to You, my God, as I walk through this life by faith and then enter Your rest, where my faith will be sight!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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