Rest

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Today at church we did a study of Hebrews 4:1-13. I did a little study of this during the past week because I knew we would be going over this today at church. I must admit, in my private study, I found it hard to grasp. I felt Pastor Brandon did a good job of explaining this difficult passage. I would just like to concentrate on a few verses and then maybe sum things up as I understood them.

In verse 9-13 of Hebrews 4, the writer talks about the fact that God RESTED on the 7th day, after He completed His creation. We also read in the Gospels that when Christ died on the cross, His work of salvation was finished. Both creation and salvation are finished works and will never need to be repeated. When God finished creation, it was perfect. When Christ said “it is finished,” there was nothing to be added. The word for REST here means “a complete rest.” One day, we will enjoy a complete rest as God did when He rested from creation. But we are not there yet.

I saw a piece of art in a Christian bookstore a while ago. It was a copy of a painting that depicted a man falling into the arms of Jesus. the man was totally spent and exhausted but Jesus was there lovingly holding him in His arms. What a great depiction of what it will be like when we get home! Our work will finally be over.

But we are not there yet. Yes, there is a rest of salvation that we have. But like the Israelites when they finally reached the promised land, our rest in salvation is not our final rest. Yes, if we are truly saved, we need never doubt our salvation or fall into a works mode to earn our salvation. We can rest by faith that we will one day be with Jesus. But in verse 11 the writer starts out by saying, “Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest….”  What, I thought I was already saved and i had rest! That’s true, but again, it is not final. While we are on this earth, we strive to get to that final rest. In this context, I believe the diligence is not drifting away from the Lord like the Israelites did. Verse 12 is a well known verse that talks about the Word of God as being living, active, sharp, piercing, etc. I believe the writer is giving an admonition not to drift from God. How do we do that. Pastor Brandon gave us an answer. When we depart from God’s Word, when we depart from God’s people, we become isolated. And when we are isolated, we going to drift away from God.

So, is there labor and do we need to be diligent? Yes! Pastor mentioned that we need to find our rest in God and stop striving to please Him and work for him. But at the same time we need to keep striving because there is a final rest for us yet to come. Look at Philippians 2:12-13. It talks working out our own salvation because with fear and trembling, because God is at work in us to work out His good pleasure through us. Working for God should never be a burden. Yes, there will be striving and we will get weary, tired and we will need rest. But our labor should never be burdened. Our work and striving should be done out of love and gratefulness for what He has already done for us. If we strive out of guilt, obligation, people pleasing or any other motive except love, we don’t understand what Hebrews 4 is saying to us.

Let me end this with an observation. There is a man in our church named Toby. I “know” Toby a little because we greet together on Sunday mornings. I use parenthesis because I have never really sat down and talked with Toby so it is impossible to truly “know” him at this point. But I have observed him. He is a very friendly man and seems to know everyone who comes into church. Young kids run up to him to get a big bear hug. I sit in service and watch videos that the church shows on occasions, and there’s Toby. Toby serves in the youth ministry as well as being a greeter. That means he attends youth meetings on Wednesdays as well as works on Sunday as a greeter. He went to youth camp as a counselor recently and he wasn’t at the service this morning, because he was in Mexico visiting a school that a group of our men visit each year. He seems to me to be tireless, but I know that isn’t true. But I rarely see him without a smile on his face or acting like his service is a burden. It is evident to me that he serves, labors and strives for the Lord with a heart that is right before the Lord, and out of love and obedience, and not to please himself or the church. I hope a little of Toby rubs off onto me. He is a great example.

I hope this makes a little sense to you. I will pray today that we today will serve our Lord in Love and from our hearts. My admonition for us all is to be diligent and keep striving. Not because our Lord is a cruel taskmaster. But because He has chosen us before the foundations of the world to be his children and co-heirs with Him (Ephesians 1). I know in my case I need an attitude change. May God have mercy on us, sinners all, saved by Grace!

When the Dam Breaks, People Notice

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

We heard a true story today at Stonepoint about a dam here in the Dallas area. it seems that with all the rain back in 2014 that one of the large local dams was in danger of breaking and causing a major flood. People were concerned of course, because the damage and loss of life could have been extensive. But what the engineers found when they inspected the dam was that the erosion of the dam didn’t happen all at once. It had been going on for a couple of decades, but no one noticed until it was almost too late.

We heard this story in conjunction with our studies in the book of Hebrews at Stonepoint today. Hebrews is a really good book and has a lot for us to learn and apply to our lives. Basically, according to one commentator, Hebrews contains five admonitions for God’s people. I’d like to list them for us:

Drifting from the Word–Hebrews 2:1-4 (neglect)
Doubting the Word–Hebrews 3:7–4:13 (heard heart)
Dullness toward the Word–Hebrews 5:11–6:20 (sluggishness)
Despising the Word–Hebrews 10:26–39 (willfulness)
Defying the Word–Hebrews 12:14-29 (refusing to hear)

Today we basically covered doubting the Word and having a hard heart. To get the background we need to go back to Numbers chapters 13 and 14. These are two of my favorite chapters in the Bible! You are probably familiar with these chapters. The people are on the verge of going into the promised land when Moses decided to send out twelve spies to check out the land. The spies returned with the report that the land was indeed, a good land. But there were also fortified cities and giants in the land. Ten of the twelve spies said that it was impossible to take the land. Joshua and Caleb said the land was there’s for the taking as God had already promised. For their stance, the people almost stoned Joshua and Caleb. God became angry and and would not that entire generation go into the promised land. Instead, they would spend 40 years walking around in the desert until they all died out. Then God would bring a new generation into the land.

So what’s the lesson for us today. It’s simply that we cannot afford to doubt God’s word. The people of Israel, almost from the moment they stepped out of Egypt. Doubted and challenged God’s Word. Moses tried to keep the people were just too hard hearted. I believe they actually thought they knew more than God. Their downfall did not come as a large explosion. It came as a slow and quiet erosion. Just like the children of Israel, when we start doubting God’s Word, we are on a slow course to erosion. At it’s completion, we have a heard heart that no longer wants to believe the Word.

Now we know the problem, so what is the solution? I can’t and won’t pretend to have the answers. Staying faithful to God and His Word has been as much of a challenge for me as for anyone else. But here are a couple of things that might help us:

First, we need to take heed of what we read. (I really didn’t intend to make that rhyme). And we need to read consistently. Like the dam I mentioned in the beginning, the damage didn’t happen all at once. It happened over a good amount of time and it went unknown for many years. The same is true of drifting from the Word. Satan will use our drifting from the Word and turn it into doubt. Numbers 13 and 14 is not just a good, interesting and sad story. In those two chapters of utter failure on the part of the people of Israel, there is one glimmer of hope. We need to be like Caleb: “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” (Numbers 14:24). In other words, Caleb didn’t drift away from and then doubt God’s Word like the other spies. The result for him was that out of that generation, only he and Joshua entered the promise land.

Second, we need to apply faith to what we read. We can read the Word every day and it won’t do one thing to help our spiritual growth. One commentary that I read says that we need to apply “dynamic faith” to what we read. What is dynamic faith? The commentator had this to say, “Dynamic faith is based on God’s Word, and it involves the whole person. Dead faith touches only the intellect; demonic faith involves both the mind and the emotions. but dynamic faith involves the will.” (Wiersbe). Dyamic faith involves our mind, emotions and will. True faith causes us to obey and it leads to action. I believe this is what the Bible means when it says, “faith without works is dead.” True faith is demonstrated by His people doing something that brings glory to God.

Caleb believed God, put that faith to work and settled in the promised land. As we obey  God’s Word and apply dynamic faith to our lives we too, will enter the promised land. Although our promised land will not be a land. It will be our spiritual inheritance with Jesus Christ and we will live with Him forever!! This is not our home!!!! Our home will be so much better as to be unimaginable. How truly glorious that will be!!

Hebrews–Week One

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Today at Stonepoint we started our summer series on the book of Hebrews. We covered Hebrews 1:1-14. I’d just like to cover a couple of the points that were brought out today.

I don’t know about you, but in times past when I read this passage, I always wondered why most of it was spent comparing Jesus and angels. I mean, don’t we all know that Jesus is greater than angels? But if I were a Jew back when the Holy Spirit penned the book of Hebrews, angels were a big thing. The Jews could understand that God spoke through the prophets, the Law and even angels. But this fellow, Jesus was a different story. I believe that’s why He starts off the book by saying, “in these last days (He) has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things.” Then in verse 4, God plainly states that Jesus has become as much better than the angels as He had inherited a more excellent name than they (the angels).

Then starting in verse 5 through 14 the writer quotes one Old Testament passage after another to prove His point. By the end, the proofs are irrefutable. Jesus is the Messiah; angels are the ministers. They sit around the throne, not on it. Despite all the proofs to the contrary, with few exceptions, Jesus remained a stumbling block to the Jews.

Fast forward to our time today. Pastor Brandon brought out the point, “Everything we spend so much time on will one day fail. We are preserved through Jesus and will have no end date.” Does that sink in with us? There is nothing else that we can count on for our salvation and future except JESUS. Indeed, there is nothing else we need.

The last thing that was spoken in today’s message was this: “Are you stumbling on Jesus or are you standing on Jesus?” If we are standing on Jesus we will want to spend time with Him and obey Him. Sometimes it seems to me like obedience to Christ no longer exists. Brother KP, our director at GFA, used to say that obedience has now been equated with legalism. We tend to think, and may even have been taught, that because of grace, we can live as we please. It is my hope and prayer for myself that I won’t live this way, that I will live a life worthy of my calling. I am saved by God’s grace and mercy. But I am also called to be holy. We cannot live having one foot in the world and the other foot in heaven. Jesus must have the highest place in our lives.

One commentary I was looking at the other day had this to say about the book of Hebrews: “The book of Hebrews exalts the person ant the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When you realize all that you have in and through Him, you have no desire for anyone else or anything thing else.” I pray we will exalt Jesus to the fullest!!!

Randomness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

First of all, I believe Pastor Brandon is starting a new series on Sunday on the book of Hebrews. At least I think I heard that. If not, I guess I’ll have my own study on it, as I have already started. Book of Hebrews used to scare me a little. But while there is much I don’t understand about the book at this point, I do know that the Holy Spirit did not have this book penned to scare us. The last couple of times I’ve read Hebrews I’ve found to be a book of encouragement and exultation. I’m looking forward to the study of it this summer.

Resentments. I’ve had a few in my life. In re:generation, we are starting what is known as inventory. At it’s core, our workbook describes our inventory as an honest record of the impact of sin on our lives. While I worked through the first inventory on resentments, I was impressed with a couple of things. First, resentments really hold you to your past. Some thoughts came to mind of things that happened to me back in my high school days and even back to my early childhood. The fact that they came to mind was a little scary, actually. I don’t want to be held captive by my past resentments. The only person it affects is me, and it hinders my moving forward in my walk. The second thought I had, at least for me, was that i don’t have time to keep struggling with resentments that have occurred. My thought for myself is that there is little time left, and there is still work for me to do. When I let my mind dwell on “wrongs” that have been done to me, I have noticed lately that it really effects my serving the Lord in a negative way. It’s time for that to stop. We can talk about how that will happen another time.

Fear is another area that I have been working on in re:generation. I have had a lot of fears and insecurities in my life and they only get stronger as we age. At least they have for me. Fear in our lives seems to speak to trust. To what or whom do we trust? Are we willing to take chances for God? I can tell you that I have pretty much taken the safe route in life. Now, there have been exceptions to that in my life. But over all, I have played it safe. One thing I know… at least I think it’s true, that in order for the Gospel to go forward, there is always someone who has to sacrifice. I think of some of the early missionaries like Judson, Hudson Taylor and many others. Today, around the world, there are countless unnamed Christians who have given up everything to preach the Gospel. Question: Is it worth giving up everything we have to follow Jesus? We need to think hard and honestly before we answer that question. It’s time for me, and perhaps you, to rid ourselves from our fears and step out for God. Just a simple example, God helped me I had to over come my fear just to walk into the church on the first night I felt His leading to go to re:generation. But God used that small act to start new growth in me.

Well, I have more but I think this is enough for today. I pray God will give us grace and courage to analyze our lives in light of the Gospel. Then please don’t just jump in and start trying to make changes on your own. Whatever God brings to our minds and hearts that need to be changed will be revealed as we pray for His Guidance and as the Holy Spirit directs us. Then we can go forward in faith and confidence that God is leading us. God bless you!