Yesterday was yet another great day of worship at Idlewild. It is so amazing to see God at work in the lives of his people, and as a pastor it is very humbling to think that God is using me in such a way that is effecting many lives. I grew up hearing pastors talk about the highs and lows of being in ministry, but never really understood until this past year sitting in that seat. One thing that I have figured out is it was so easy sitting in the pew watching a particular pastor and thinking to myself what I would do different. It was so easy sitting their critiquing him and pointing out his weaknesses, without really knowing what he is going through. Being a pastor is tough, and if it wasn't I don't think that it would be worth pursuing. It is in the tough times, that we learn how to endure in our faith, that we learn to trust God more, and our hope in Christ is strengthened. I just pray that as I continue this journey, I would consistently seek "true wisdom", wisdom that comes from a generous God, to help me persevere (James 1:1-8, Romans 5:1-5, Proverbs 2:6-7, Matthew 7:7-8).
Last week we finished our series on the book of Ruth. It was an amazing journey, and such an awesome book that reveals our relationship with Jesus and the providence of God in our lives. Next week we are starting our new series, "Tough Questions: The Believers Guide To The Christian Life." I am totally excited about this, because I have gotten some good questions, which means I had better get to praying, planning, and preparing. This week though, was one of those Sundays that was a freebe, meaning there was no planned series or book to go through. I have been going through the book of Hebrews in my quiet time, and chapter 4 has really impacted my life.
I decided that we would focus in on Hebrews 4:11-13, and entitled the sermon "Dissection Leads to Satisfaction." The premise of the entire chapter is finding rest (satisfaction) in God's Rest. In reading the chapter, one sees that the children of Israel did not seek to find rest in God, and thus spent 40 years in the wilderness for their disobedience. The writer of Hebrews is warning his readers not to make the same choice. In his wisdom, he points out that if one is to truly find this rest or satisfaction, they must be impacted by the Word of God. He says that the Word of God is to dissect your inner being, so it can expose to you the motivations and attitudes of your heart. God's Word moves beyond the tough exterior (joints and marrow illutration) to the interior where our lives take place. There is no fooling or manipulating God. He sees all and knows all, and yet in his kindness and mercy still grants us grace and forgiveness.
I really have been challenged by these verses, because many of times when I sit before the Scriptures, it is not much different than sitting before another book. Sometimes, I do not see the Bible as "active" and as "living", meaning that it has a purpose, and that purpose is to pierce the hearts and souls of those who read, to bring change. So we conclude then that the only way a believer can find rest or satisfaction in God, is through the power of the Word of God, whether read or heard, dissecting our hearts and exposing the "real us" to ourselves.
My prayer for us all is that we will seek to find rest in God's rest. I challenge you to open up the Word of God, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of a deep desire to know God, to know the real you, and to be changed. There is no rest like God's rest!
(We read Psalm 95 in our Scripture Reading, which sets a great foundation for these verses in Hebrews 4...check it out if you get a chance.)