Vacation – June 22

Text: Hebrews 4 (Read it here)20160622

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

(Hebrews 4.1, NIV)

Sabbath Rest
Author: Trent Roberson

“And God rested on the 7th day from all his work.” We are working people. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and seldom do we encounter a problem that a little hard work, a few extra hours, a little sacrifice can’t resolve. But, we are tired. We long for rest. We need a break, just a few hours to get caught up. God created us to need rest. We are made in his image and the creation brought him to the point of needing rest.

Did you know that the mattress industry in the United States is not only a 9 billion dollar industry, but one of the fastest growing sectors America. We are people who are in need of rest and we are searching for better rest. We are tired!

Hebrews 4 wrestles with the topic of Sabbath rest, but this rest only makes sense when contrasted to the writers reference to the rebellious and disobedient Israelites who were not going to enter His promise land rest due their actions.

The rest that we are longing for can’t be bought or discovered through a personal rest number.  Our Sabbath rest is truly discovered the moment we overcome unbelief and recognize our need for salvation. Mankind is restless outside of Christ. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.(Matthew 11:28) True Sabbath, real rest, only exists in Christ. The creator made us that way. What we are really chasing came at a great price, but it can’t be bought by us.

So, what’s our response? Pursue Christ. Quit chasing gratification and purpose outside of Christ. Slow down and enjoy God’s blessings.

Questions:

The author of Hebrews speaks of the importance of finding a rest in the Lord that comes from a faith that acts in obedience. How have you found obedience and rest connected in your life? In what ways has disobedience actually served to create more work for you, rather than avoid it?

The allusion here is to the people of Israel entering into the Promised Land, or at least, the offer of the Land until the people’s disobedience disqualified them from entering. How can we understand the importance of following God through obedience and receiving a reward of rest? In what ways does a lifestyle of obedience give us rest today, versus at some point down the road in the future?

How is the word of God connected to entering into his rest? Why do you think the author of Hebrews brings it up in this passage? How can you open yourself fully to the rest that comes only from God, but only comes through obedience to him?

Vacation – June 15

Text: Matthew 10 (Read it here, but please avoid this text if you are content being a casual Christian)chart

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

(Matthew 10.38-39, NIV)

Casual Christianity…HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!
Author: Trent Roberson

Often we measure spiritual growth by church attendance, conversion, and giving.  Our American, First World, churches are full of good intentioned, God loving individuals, who are fans of Jesus.  Unfortunately, the ideological gulf between a disciple and fan is drastic.  Matthew 10 seems distant to us, almost from another world, with its talk of witness, persecution, poverty, and martyrdom.

As Jesus sends out the 12 disciples he charges them to:

  • Go to the same lost sheep of Israel that he did
  • Proclaim the same message
  • Perform the same healings, exorcisms, and even raising from the dead
  • Live the same wandering, dependent life of poverty
  • Anticipate the same mixed reception

He tells them to prepare for their journey by not packing a bag or taking their wallet.  Jesus challenges them to make themselves vulnerable through relationships with anticipation that they will not be accepted, possibly even broken down or arrested.  He prepares them to anticipate family rejection due to the mission that he’s called them to.  Jesus then sugar coats the message with a simple, “do not be afraid”, because he knew that the value of the mission was greater than the cost of following him.

Matthew 10 reveals what the Christian life essentially is.  It’s a confession of Jesus and focus on His mission, letting go of identity based upon material possessions as well as fear of what others might think about us, placing loyalty to God above all other loyalties, and trusting in God and God’s future.  Jesus’ call to this life of mission is directed only to the twelve, but all Christ followers called to participate in this mission.

We can read Matthew 10 and walk away with 1 of 2 conclusions.  The price is to high and I have too much to lose or Christ has invited and prepared me to participate in His crazy, adventurous, life-changing mission and because of that my life has great purpose!  Let’s leave the fan section and participate in this mission that he has invited us to.

What fears keep you from participating in Christ’s mission? How does Satan control us through fear? What do you have to lose?

Questions:

What instructions does Jesus give the twelve prior to their going out to proclaim the message of the kingdom? If you were planning their venture, how prepared would you consider them, given those instructions? What sort of things would you have rather been a part of those initial instructions?

Do you think the disciples rejoiced in knowing they were being sent out like “sheep among wolves?” In what ways do you see yourself as being a sheep among wolves when you attempt to share your faith and live a life committed to Christ?

We live in a world that often considers life the most important thing we can hold on to. The inverse is also true: death is often considered the final and worst defeat possible. How can you live today in a way consistent with Jesus’ teaching that those who attempt to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life actually find it?

Proverbs 7 – July 7

CC Image courtesy of Jim Larrison on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Jim Larrison on Flickr.

Proverbs 7
Author: Trent Roberson

It looks so enticing. It’s out there lurking and never far away. While the context of the Proverb is promiscuity and sexuality, the teaching transcends and provides wisdom on how we approach and avoid moral pitfalls.

Read the words of Proverbs 7.

This proverb has similarities to the foundational wisdom provided in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6), which includes the keeping and binding of commands along with the writing of them. While having an awareness of God’s commands should be enough, it helps to be prepared for the enemy’s game plans.

Imagine for a moment how much different a football game would look if the home team already new their opponent’s game plan.: what plays they would run on 1st down, which receiver they planned to throw to on certain plays, and which defensive sets they were using against the offense. The game would drastically change. Your preparation for the game and your approach during the game would be more focused.

The father’s wisdom is a description of the enemy’s game plan to the son. He carefully describes how the prowling woman works, how she attracts her prey, and how she devours it. What seems so enticing in the moment smells of a trap from a distance.

While the Proverb is in the context of a sexual encounter, we realize that it could just as easy be replaced with any sin that we might struggle with. The enemy is strategic. He has a plan. He uses enticing, attractive, and shiny bait to lure us into his trap. The enemy is always preying upon our weaknesses and searching for ways to devour us. The enemy’s craftiness challenges us to be people who practice self-discipline and self-control in order to thwart his attacks.

How can we prepare ourselves with wisdom to be able to spot the enemy’s traps from a distance?

How do we develop the strength to act upon this wisdom?

How can we coach those younger than us to act upon this wisdom?