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Saturday, February 25, 2017

HEBREWS 4:1-2

"Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest,
anyone of you may seem to come short of it.
For indeed we have had good news preached to us,
just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them,
because it was not united by faith in those who heard."


Let us not fear...
While a promise remains...
you may seem to come short of it.


Somehow the mental picture that pops into my mind is an amusement park, like the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz or Disneyland.  For safety purposes, sometimes there's a painted yardstick to see if a child is tall enough to enter.  Do you remember the agony or the temper tantrum when your child had been deemed too short?   I'm sure I told the story about one of the trips our son and his family took to Disneyland when his younger twins had a problem if they wanted to drive the Cars ride: Addie was tall enough at age four, but her brother was not.  What?  This cannot be!  The solution?  Putting granola bars in Ezra's shoes, like creative platform shoes.  He was able to enter into the land of Cars and become a crazy driver beside his dad.  It was his favorite ride. 


Better than granola bars in your shoes!

Something much greater is offered here than rides at an amusement park.  A promise remains.  Why would anyone find themselves short of it?  Not all who hear truly listen: he's talking about in- one-ear-and-out-the-other kind of people.  Once again, who is Paul, or the author of Hebrews, talking to?  Jewish converts and, of course, to us.  There is a pivotal point at which one must go on or regress and lose everything gained up to that point.  Just as it was a step of faith to become a Christian, so is it a leap of faith to go deeper, to enter into His rest.  You cannot enter if you do not believe it is possible, that it is indeed a promise of God.  It is only accomplished by faith, a belief that all God's promises are true.



Indeed, Scripture offers us examples of the alternative to entering into His rest.  "All the congregation lifted up their voices and cried and the people wept that night.  All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would that we had died in this wilderness!"(Numbers 14:2, 4) "Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee: fear not....Arise, that we may go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good: and are ye still?  Be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land; for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth; (Judges 18: 9,10)  "They might have persevered; so might we: they disbelieved, disobeyed, and fell: and so may we." ... "But they were dastardly through all their generations.  They spoke evil of the pleasant land, and did not give credence to His word. (Adam Clarke)

"His rest"


Hank just confided in us that he thought R.I.P. stood for rest in pieces.  Hmm.  It's a good thing God takes the peanut and leaves the shell in the grave, whether it's whole or in pieces--I don't even want to know!  Yes, there is an eternal rest in heaven, but I believe the author is reminding us of a kind of rest for the soul here on earth, a deeper work of grace.  Certainly their circumstances might not be affording them rest if they were the persecuted dispossessed early Christians spreading out across the world as they fled the fury unleashed against them.  Yet, Christ is offering them an inner peace, not as the world gives peace.  R.I.P. can be written on our heart by the Holy Spirit while we are still alive!


What better illustration than animals who totally trust their masters and rest...





Listen to Andrew Murray...

"In God we see, as it were two distinct stages in His relation to His work.  The first was that of creation--until He had finished all His work which He crated and made.  The second, His rest when creation was finished, and He rejoiced in what He had made, now to begin the higher work...Even so there are the two stages in the Christian life.  The one in which, after conversion, a believer seeks to work what God would have him do. The second, in which after many painful failures, he ceases from his works, and enters the rest of God, there to find the power for work in allowing God to work in him...Truly to rest in God is to yield oneself up to the highest activity.  We
work, because He worketh in us to will and to do.  As Paul says of himself, 'I labour, striving according to His works who worketh in me with might (lit. 'agonizing according to His energy who energies in me with might.')  Entering the rest of God is the ceasing from self-effort, and the yielding up oneself in the full surrender of faith to God's working. "



"How many Christians are there who need nothing so much as rightly to apprehend this word.  Their life is one of  earnest effort and ceaseless struggling.  They do long to do God's will, (Romans 7 & 8) and to live to His glory.  Continued failure and bitter disappointment is their too frequent experience.  Very often as the result they give themselves up to a feeling of hopelessness ("Oh wretched man that I am.  Who will deliver me?"  followed by, "Thanks be to God!")  Theirs is truly the wilderness life--they have not entered into God's rest."


"And how does one rest and cease from his works?  It is by ceasing from self.  It is the old self life that always insists upon proving its goodness and its strength...It is only in death that we rest from our works.  Jesus entered His rest through death; each one whom He leads into it must pass through death.  'Reckon yourself to be indeed dead unto sin, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.'  ...Exchange the wilderness life with your own works (dirty rags) for the rest-life in which God works."

This is the difference that the gift of the Holy Spirit brings.  Rest.  Not "rest in pieces" by only choosing to ask for His help for this or that, but complete rest, to be  emptied of self, cleansed and filled with the Holy Spirit. 




Think of the empty work glove. 


It is useless unless the hand slips in it.  Think of that hand as the Holy Spirit, to work and do His good pleasure.  The glove may be Rubbermaid, cotton, or leather, brand-spanking new or old it doesn't matter.  Just ask the Holy Ghost to enter fully into your life. 


Don't be restless.  Find rest for your soul. 
 . 

Rest.

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