Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 8 - Hebrews 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Hebrews 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Verses 1-2 speak of the "Promised Land" rest from the Old Testament times, when God led the Israelites into a land he promised them. This could be an analogy for finding rest in the kingdom of God.
  • Verses 3-7 speak of "Sabbath rest." The fourth commandment (of the Ten Commandments) is to keep the seventh day of the week holy by not working, as God did after he created the world. There's also an analogy here to us "resting" in our  salvation. After accepting Jesus as savior and lord, we no longer have to make up for our sin. There is no more striving to make ourselves worthy to God. Instead, we accept what Jesus has done for us.
  • Verses 8-11 speak of our "future rest." This points towards the rest from pain, evil and sin that Jesus’ followers will experience in heaven.
  • The key idea (as we see in verses 1 and 11) is to be careful not to miss the rest God wants to give us. As we have already seen in the first few chapters of Hebrews, the way we can miss out on what God has for us is by turning away from our faith in Jesus, or by feeling a need to add to Jesus, when he is truly sufficient.
  • In verse 12 we learn that God's Word (which we have in the Bible) is living and active and penetrates into us when we experience it and allow it to.
  • The chapter ends with a reminder that Jesus is our "high priest" -- the one who bridges the gap between us and God and connects us to him -- and that since he became human and experienced temptation, he can empathize with our struggles and give us help when we need it.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • This chapter should be incredibly encouraging. You have a God who loves you, understands the burdens you carry, and is offering you rest, in this life, and fully in the life to come.
  • This chapter should also be challenging. You can resist God and say no to his offer of rest. (You can do this by focusing on yourself instead of Jesus, or by believing that Jesus isn't enough and trying to add to him as what you think you really need in life, or to make you right with God.)
  • When you're tempted to sin or to drift away from God, you can go to Jesus, who empathizes with you and will help you.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How does it encourage you to know that God is offering you rest? If you don't feel encouraged, perhaps you need to read the chapter again and let it really sink in. How can God's rest help you get through the tough parts of today?
  • How are you tempted to turn from or add to Jesus? Identity some of the primary ways, and then pray about them. Ask God to help you focus on Jesus and his sufficiency.