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July 19, 2020 Sunday School: Strive to Rest! - Pastor Perry Windecker

Instructions:

Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.


Lesson

Scripture

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV).

Have you ever been so exhausted or so stressed out that when whatever it was you were doing was over you just slept? But not any ordinary sleep but a peaceful life rejuvenating sleep. For many of us something like this happens every year when we come back from that great adventure called vacation. But instead of resting on vacation, between all the planning, travel, airports, hotels, traffic, and so on there is no rest just more stress with a capital ‘S.’ For many of us we find ourselves completely drained after a vacation that was supposed to rejuvenate, and instead we crash.


This crash is in no way the kind of rest we should seek, and it is not the kind of rest the writer of Hebrews is speaking about in these passages. It however illustrates to many of us our need for the kind of rest that the writer is speaking about. The kind of rest only God can provide.


As a child I would get so excited about an upcoming vacation or camping trip that I could actually make myself ill over the wait. Our waiting can be short or long, but it is in the waiting we should be looking at these verses. We should not be so fixed on “God’s rest,” although it is the goal and we long for this kind of peace. We should, however, be fixed on how this passage teaches us to achieve this goal. In this passage we read, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” We should strive and labor so we can enter this rest. We should do whatever it takes to allow us to enter this rest when the time comes.


What is this though? We read in the last line of these passages, “so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” This however, raises the question who and what disobedience. The writer is referring to back to the Israelite’s in verses 3:7-9. Those who rebelled in the wilderness. Those who hardened their hearts. Look back to Chapter 3 verse 7 and reading up to and including these passages. In doing so we see the writer once again comparing the old covenant with the much better new covenant. The Israelite’s rebellion in the wilderness due to sin and its deceitfulness,[1] as we see in verse 3:13, preventing them from entering. The writer of Hebrews says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,”[2] in verse 3:15; saying don’t wait but do what it takes today to enter this rest.


Reading verses 3:7-4:11 we see no less than three times, a cry to seize the opportunity today, by faith and not by hardened hearts and rebellion, but rather in holiness, faith and obedience do what it takes today to someday enter this glorious rest—that God says is still open and available for us. The Israelites of the wilderness were not allowed to enter this rest of God’s, but you can.


How? We read in verses 3:12-14, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.”[3] Meaning holiness is how we stay the course, through faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ and how He taught us to live.

Questions 1. How are you living life TODAY? …How hard is your heart?


2. Are you seizing Jesus Christ TODAY? …Or are you hardening by the day?

[1] Kevin L. Anderson, Hebrews: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, ed. Alex Varughese, Roger Hahn, and George Lyons, New Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2013), 151. [2] Hebrews 3:15 NRSV [3] Ibid 3:12-14

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