One of my favorite things to do on a dark stormy day is to curl up with a good book, relax, and ultimately take a nap. It’s one of the best times for me to forget all the things to do that swirl around my mind and just rest. After that period of rest, I feel refreshed, renewed, and better able to work through what needs to be done. Rest is not just something we enjoy but we are actually commanded to rest in both the Old and New Testament but since today’s reading is Hebrews 1-4 that is what we will stick with.
Hebrews 4:11 says, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” We NEED to rest. It doesn’t say rest if you have the time or only rest when you are tired but instead it says to be “diligent.” I am diligent to eat dinner every night and I am diligent to read my Bible each day but am I diligent to rest every day?
We are reminded in 4:13 that nothing that we do is hidden from our creator. We might be able to hide our lack of rest from our friends and family but we cannot hide the truth from God. One day we will enter God’s rest in God’s Kingdom but until then let us rest from the turmoil of each day and focus on the one who promises us peace.
If you haven’t tried it already for the remainder of the time that you are reading through the Bible, before you jump into reading take a few minutes to rest. Turn off your phone, go to a quiet place, breathe deep, and be still. When you feel as though your mind is no longer racing then spend time in prayer and begin your study.
Friday, March 24
In Ezekiel 20 God reviews Israel’s history. Over and over God provided for His people, over and over He warned them to get rid of their idols, keep His commands and observe His Sabbaths. Over and over Israel failed to obey God and experienced the consequences. Over and over God was compassionate and loving and forgave His people and restored them to blessings.
Israel has repeated this history again. They failed to get rid of idols, they failed to keep his commands and observe his Sabbaths, and now they were about to experience the consequences of their sins. God would once again treat them with mercy, not as their sins deserved and restore them to their land.
Ezekiel juxtaposes God’s promise to be merciful and restore His people with the threat that His judgment is coming and that both the evil and the good will be cut off from the land and the city and the temple. Yes, everyone will suffer the consequences of the evil behavior of some.
There is tension throughout Ezekiel. The wicked will suffer for their sins and the righteous will not suffer, except that at first they will suffer for the sins of others. Sometimes when God brings his judgment designed to bring people to repentance there is collateral damage. Good people suffer when bad people sin. It’s how it was then, it’s still how it is today. God’s salvation is coming, earth will one day be restored and made whole and good, but in the meantime, good people will suffer alongside the wicked. Christians are martyred in places like Pakistan and Syria. Christians sometimes suffer persecution in the United States. Trials may come to God’s people during times of judgment, but those who trust God and repent of their sins will be saved.
(photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/verse/Ezekiel_20:17)
By Joseph Partain
Have you had to buy another highlighter? And we’re only 11 chapters into Deuteronomy. There are so many passages that speak directly into our lives and need to be read and put into action. Today is no different. It seems as though “meeting with God on the Sabbath” has become indifferent to a lot of people. If it fits into my schedule, if I’m not on vacation, if my kids don’t have a sporting event, etc. God lets us know in Ch 12 that meeting together with God and others is very important. v7 speaks to our meeting in the presence of God, eating and praising him for all that he has blessed us with. Sounds like a potluck and that’s about as good as it gets. The importance of the family coming to worship God together is a teaching moment that is stressed throughout this chapter and this book. Make sure that all the idols and other forms of worship are completely destroyed. Do we have a joy in meeting with God or is it something we endure? We need to have an attitude like David when he said, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into your house O Lord.”
The next three chapters go over the importance of worshiping the One true God, not being led astray by any false teachings. God says not to spare the one who would lead one of his people away from God. It also covers the animals that were to be eaten and the importance of tithing to God. The tithing that is mentioned in this text is to make sure that everyone has enough and God says that if we are faithful, he will bless all the works of our hands. We can’t out give God and this is not a prosperity teaching. Whenever we give, the benefits may not always be money and that shouldn’t be our motive. I know that for me I’ve always received more of a blessing from helping someone than the time or money spent. Ch 15 is a great chapter for anyone who owes someone else. God says that every seven years the loans are to be forgiven and the servants to be set free if they wanted freedom. A great foreshadowing of the payment God made with Jesus to set us free from sin. How joyful these debtors must have been to have the slate clean and a new beginning. If you feel burdened in any way there is only one who can take that burden and the best thing is it is a free gift to us. A gift is free to the person receiving it, but it still had to be bought by someone. We are so thankful God and his Son were willing to pay that price to cancel our debt.
Saturday, August 27
Priestly purity is the topic of the first two chapters today. As priests of the Most High their job was to represent God to the people as well as representing the people before God. It wasn’t a job to be taken lightly. It wasn’t enough to just belong to the right tribe (of Levi – thus the name of the book – Leviticus). It wasn’t enough to be part of Aaron’s family within that tribe. It wasn’t even enough to follow all the laws given to the Israelites. For, besides following all the rules for the Israelites, the priests also were committed to following a higher standard with additional rules for themselves, who they can marry, and how they will serve. As we all know: with great power comes great responsibility.
And then (1,000 plus years later) there was Jesus. He became the high priest and his believers became the royal priesthood – representing God to the world. And still today: with great power comes great responsibility. How are you handling the power? Who will you represent God to today? What will you do and say to be His agent in the world? How will you hold yourself up to a higher standard than those around you? What responsibilities are you ready to take on for the Almighty?
But, just when this representing is starting to sound like a lot of work . . . we hit the Time to Celebrate Chapter – #23. As it turns out, God has designed his children (and representatives) to work BEST with regularly built in days to rest (Sabbaths come once a week) as well as special holidays to celebrate blessings and harvests, to remember God’s faithfulness throughout history, to offer sacrifices to God, to take a break from work, and to feast! Some of these holidays were a week long! One of the week long celebrations God created seems to look a whole lot like a camping trip to me – which is one of my family’s favorite ways to relax and remember God’s goodness in His beautiful outdoors. The Festival of Tabernacles was a week spent in “temporary shelters” to remember how God took the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness and provided for them on their way to the Promised Land. God had this holiday planned even before they reached the Promised Land and their permanent homes. I think it is neat that even back then there was benefit and Godly gain from “getting away from it all”. How can you “work in” some of these important aspects of holidays and festivals – to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness while taking a break from your regular work, while offering sacrifices and feasting? I like the vacation plan for God’s representatives! And then, with recharged batteries and a heart full of wonder and thankfulness to a Great Big God who supplies all the needs of every generation of believers past, present and future – let’s get to work again. We have an Awesome God to represent!
Thank you for reading this week as we have worked through most of Leviticus together! I pray you receive His blessings as you continue to dig in and seek His wisdom and way. God’s Word is Great – because He Is!