Entering God's Promised Rest - Jesus Is Greater Series #2

8 Days

What is rest? What does it mean to enter into God’s rest? What exactly are we resting from? As we journey through Part Two of Nine devotional plans walking us through the book of Hebrews, we discover how God defines rest, how we enter this rest and how we grow from this position of rest.

Day 1

Faithful in God's House  

Hebrews 3:1–6 (ESV)

1Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Thoughts on the Word

Consider Jesus.

We see two faithful people - Moses and Jesus. One faithful as a servant, the other as a son. Big difference! A son builds a house while the servant works in it.

Our job is not to be the builder, our job is to work faithfully. As we do, Jesus builds it. If we try to build it, we are trying to do Jesus' job - and we will fail. 

What must we do? Serve faithfully. Let Jesus take care of the rest.

The really scary part? We are just being faithful in His house - but the house is us. He is building this beautiful house and it is us.

Time to Pray

Father, help me to be faithful in your house. You have a simple task for me and I want to be faithful in it. In the end, the house is us - Your people. When we are faithful, Your house functions beautifully. That is my prayer. That when we work together faithfully, we build a house that makes Jesus happy. So help me be faithful. Help me to help others be faithful. Help me to not try and be the builder. In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 2

Don't Allow Sin to Harden our Hearts  

Hebrews 3:7–13 (ESV)

7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ” 12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Thoughts on the Word

This is the second warning in Hebrews. 

Be careful, sin will harden your heart. A hard heart prevents you from responding in faith when things get difficult - we'll respond with our human wisdom (and often human selfishness). A hardened heart takes time to form. Our heart gets hard when we walk in disobedience and live with a life that does not seek repentance and forgiveness. 

We start with a heart that feels the conviction of the Spirit, but over time, the conviction does not poke us like it used to. We no longer feel the shame of disobedience. Eventually, we do not even feel that we are in disobedience. We justify the actions that we do and feel it is others that are the real problem. Our hearts have hardened.

The consequences? You will not enter the rest that God has for you. Israel did not enter the land of promise because of this. They were left to wander in the wilderness the rest of their lives. 

What is the cost of rejecting Jesus and His words because of sin in our lives? We live our lives without God's rest.

Time to Pray

Lord, I forget how serious sin is. When I am disobedient, my heart gets hard so I have trouble hearing and following You and Your words. I am no different that these people. Father, You forgive so easily, that I forget how seriously You take sin. I forget how much sin robs me of Your blessing and Your rest. Today, keep a guard by my mouth - so I do not speak words that dishonor You. Put a song in my heart to You - so my heart does not focus on the wounds people give. Give me eyes to see others as You see them - Your most precious creation. In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 3

Holding On with Faith - The Way to Enter Rest  

Hebrews 3:14–19 (ESV)

14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:1–2 (ESV)

1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Thoughts on the Word

When we look at the problems we face and the mountains of difficulty instead of Jesus, it gets us into trouble. The problems are real and mountains huge, but God is bigger. 

The children of Israel faced big problems. They were in the desert often without water. They had to wait for food every day to fall from heaven. They had to wait, and wait and wait… 

This challenge caught up to them and they struggled with believing God would continue to keep His promises to them. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to believe the big promises God has for us because we do not recognize God’s faithfulness with little promises.

Take time to look at the promises rather than the problems - and never let go. God will keep His promises. He has promised us rest - He will give it. That does not mean there will be no troubles. It means whatever happens, we will have His promise of rest. Do not lose this promise by losing faith in God’s other promises.

Time to Pray

Father, I ask for a bold heart today. A bold heart of faith that refuses to say that my mountains are bigger than my God. That refuses to believe that the challenges I face are greater than the strength God supplies. I believe that the message of God to me is a message of peace in the midst of everything I face. Father, I will just hang on and believe it - because I believe You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Day 4

Entering the Greater Rest God Provides  

Hebrews 4:3–13 (ESV)

3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Thoughts on the Word

God has given rest - He did it as part of creation. We can choose not to enter the rest He created. God shows us layers of rest that are available to God’s people. There is the sabbath rest – the day of rest that God created for His people. This is ours as a gift from God to mankind. We can choose to not enter this rest – and work hard every day.

There is another rest that God gave to His people – the land of promise. They entered this land of rest as Joshua led the people into the land. It was a land where they no longer wandered. It was a place of stability and development. It was a gift of God to the nation. 

God reminds them through David that there is another place of rest – spiritual rest. A rest coming from forgiveness. Many did not enter that rest.

"Today" we must choose - will we walk in obedience today and live in God's rest, or will we walk in disobedience and lose out on God's rest? How do we know what to do "today"? The word of God tells us. It is able to clearly tell us what is right and wrong. It exposes our excuses, our hidden flaws that others do not see, and it is the standard God will use when He examines our life. So let God's Word do it now - "today". Do not let our heart sit in unforgiveness – and grow hard.

Time to Pray

Father, Your rest is for today. Your word reveals what I need to do to have rest today. Help me take the time I need to hear Your Word speak into my life. At times I get confused - Your Word can separate truth from opinion. At times I make excuses for my action - Your Word is ruthless in exposing them. 

Still you are patient with us. You desire is to give me rest today. Your desire is to release blessing on my day. Help me to see that Your Word gives me this. It shows me the path to rest. It shows me the things that I hold on to that stop me from receiving your rest. The problem is me - my heart - that keeps me from rest. So strengthen my heart to follow You closely. In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 5

Jesus - the Merciful and Compassionate Priest  

Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV)

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Thoughts on the Word

The last few days have been tough. We saw how serious God was about sin. Today we see how gentle He is with the sinner seeking forgiveness. He is a gentle Priest that knows how weak we are, how easily we fail, how much we need mercy, and how often we come back for help. And He is gentle with us every time!

In addition, He understands us. Our struggles, our weaknesses, the temptations that we face every day. How can God truly understand the struggles when He is perfect and all powerful? He does because Jesus faced every single thing that we faced. Jesus knows. That is just an amazing and comforting thought. 

Never forget that God is on our side; God is always there to release forgiveness; and that Jesus is a priest who stands there with God on our behalf. 

Never forget.

Time to Pray

Father, it is easy to focus on Your mercy - and not see the cost of sinful behavior. Or focus on Your standard of righteousness - and not see the gentleness of Your forgiveness. Both requirements together give us a glimpse of Your heart. 

Father I want to see You both ways - together. I am so thankful for Your mercy. What would I ever do without it? I would die. Instead, I get second chances to deal with my failures. I get a Priest who walks with me through forgiveness and does it with grace. Father today I ask for Your heart as I deal with people who fail me. There is no greater blessing than to have this heart. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Day 6

The Role of Aaron the Priest  

Hebrews 5:1–4 (ESV)

1For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Thoughts on the Word

What is the role of the priest?

The priest is to be the one who stands before God on behalf of the people. He offers the gifts and sacrifices for sin to God on behalf of the people. He does this out of clear understanding. The failures of the people the priest serves – they mirror his own failures. So he must first offer sacrifices for his own sin and then he can deal effectively with the needs of the people he serves. So a priest is compassionate and gentle with sinful people.

Also, priests for Israel did not take that responsibility by themselves - God released it to Aaron and his children. So Aaron understood the failings of people – he was no different, just one that God appointed to minister as a priest. We must be the same - help people find forgiveness from God because we also need forgiveness. We understand their failings because we fail. We help them seek forgiveness because we need forgiveness.

Time to Pray

Father, today I look at the challenge of being a man who is called to help people when they come to You for forgiveness – but I have the same need. Like Aaron, I must first deal with my own failures and then help others deal with their failures. I cannot allow sin to stay unresolved in my life – I cannot allow it to harden my heart. Otherwise, I will be unable to help other people when they come to You for forgiveness. Like Aaron, You have called us to be priests for the world around us – to open the door for the world to come to You for forgiveness. Give us understanding I pray. Give us help today. Give us a boldness to deal with our failures. Give us Your mercy to deal with the broken people around us – and bring them to You for forgiveness.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 7

The Challenge of Suffering  

Hebrews 5:5–11 (ESV)

5So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. 11About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

Thoughts on the Word

The ability to intercede for others before God is not something we choose to do - it is a task assigned by God. 

It is a task He assigned to Aaron, to Jesus... and also to us. Do not treat it carelessly. It is an amazing privilege to help people receive God's grace and mercy. It is a promise that God will use us to reach the world around us. He will treat us as His ambassadors to the people of this world. 

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. What does suffering teach us? Teach me? Do I really allow the hardships I face to teach me godly responses? To bless people who do not deserve it? To forgive readily? To give thanks in every situation? To pray for them? These are all commands that require obedience. 

Yes, being put in these situations gives us an opportunity to learn obedience in the toughest situations. Jesus allowed it to bring out perfection in His life. I have seen it bring out bitterness in the lives of some people. To face unjust suffering brings either a heart that trusts fully in God or it makes us a bitter, broken person. 

Let’s allow God to bring out His character through the suffering we face. Otherwise the noise of bitterness blinds our hearts and ears to hear what God is saying to us.

Time to Pray

Father, we all want the honor that comes with being given special tasks. Those tasks often have costs of obedience that are very high.  We see the honor- but we do not see the cost. We want the honor - but not the cost.

Father, strengthen me to handle whatever comes with the challenges and tasks You assign to me. Give me Your strength, Your joy, Your ability to forgive quickly, Your willingness to bear others failures. These are not natural - but neither is the task we have been given. So today I pray for an obedient heart. 

I also pray for a heart that does not allow the noise of bitterness to drown out Your Spirit. I will miss so much of Your wisdom, Your heart and Your compassion for the world around me if I allow that noise to be louder than Your Spirit. I do not want that to happen. Let the suffering and difficulties I face make me fully mature and not cause me to take my eyes off of You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Day 8

It's Time to Grow Up  

Hebrews 5:11–14 (ESV)

11About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 6:1–3 (ESV)

1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits.

Thoughts on the Word

Two things. First, there are things you need to know, but often we are unable to learn them because we still are spiritual children - needing baby food. We need to grow up quickly so we can learn the things that will help us stand strong. 

Second, the foundations of our spiritual life are critical to enabling us to grow. So get the foundations right. Learn them well. Do them. Be able to teach them. Then build your life solidly on them.

When we choose to ignore these foundational truths, and try to build our life without them, we open the door for serious failure in our lives. A poor foundation destroys buildings. A poor spiritual foundation can bring destruction on our spiritual lives when we face the spiritual forces arrayed against us. Let’s take time to build this foundation right.

Time to Pray

Father, where have I forgotten my foundation? Where have I failed to learn the basics? It will stop me from having the strength to take on the challenges I must face. Father, it says I need to constantly practice these foundation principles. So help me today to practice repentance and faith in God today. 

Father where I have failed, show me and I will repent. I will not allow my spiritual walk to stall because I will not deal with spiritual failure in my life. Help me today to practice this every day - whatever it may cost. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Please get the next plan for week 3