May 28, 2023 - Preparing for the Lord's DayMay 28, 2023 Preparing for the Lord's Day
Preparing for the Lord's Day
Jesus is Better
It was the evening of August 8th, 2016. My family and I were on vacation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. We spent the whole day touring the world-famous Butchart Gardens. For those who do not know the Butchart Gardens it is a 55-acre display garden. It has countless flower beds, topiaries, and fountains. There are over 900 varieties of plants including tulips and roses and daffodils. As the sun began to set over this garden a Dixieland jazz band began to play. We found an open place on a manicured grass field to listen. The weather was clear and cool. The air was clean and sweet. And my four children (ages 10, 8, 6, and 3) were happily dancing to the music as April and I lay on the grass and watched. I sat there in perfect peace and thanked God for his grace. I forced myself to take it all in because I knew that in a few moments, it would be gone. I knew that the moment couldn’t last. But how I longed that I could take that whole experience, everything - the temperature, the diffused dusk light, the floral smells, the jazzy music, the dancing, and laughing children, the touch of my wife’s hand, and the softness of the green grass – and live it for eternity. For a brief second, I had an experience of deep and satisfying rest.
Rest is the word that is used in Hebrews Chapter 4 to seek God’s deep and abiding peace. This rest was the experience of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, which they lost by their sin. Yet the Lord desired to return his people to a place of rest. This provisional rest was rooted in the land of Canaan. They were delivered from Egypt where they worked as slaves but were offered Canaan, a land of freedom and abundance. It was a foretaste of a greater rest to come. But the people of Israel resisted God’s gift of rest. The first generation of Israelites therefore could not enter God’s rest. However, the second generation entered into this land where the Lord would give them a taste of yet an even greater rest. For even the land of Canaan was but a shadow of the Sabbath rest of God. This rest is the promised new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is to this eternal rest that Christians are called upon to enter by faith.
In this world, the Lord graciously gives us glimpses of this heavenly rest. However, each of us is called upon to receive the reality of this heavenly rest offered in Christ. In Hebrews Chapter 4 we are exhorted not to be like the Israelites who were not willing to enter God’s rest, but rather with a proper fear of God, with a confident faith in Christ, and a tenacious fight in the Holy Spirit we are to enter eternal Sabbath rest that God gives to his people. To come prepared for the sermon, take time this week to read and to meditate upon Hebrews 4:1-11, Joshua 22:4, Micah 4:3-4, Matthew 1:21, Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 3:13-14, James 2:17 and this article on entering God’s rest.
As we gather to worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit this Lord’s Day, we will join our hearts in song, singing the Hymn of Praise “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord,” the Acclamation of Praise, “Spirit of the Living God,” and the Hymn of Response “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” Let us come to worship this Sunday prepared to hear God’s Word, to receive it in faith, to love and treasure it in our hearts, and to practice it in our lives that we may continue to glorify and enjoy Him!
Text: Hebrews 4:1-11
Title: Entering God’s Rest
- Every Christian Must Have Fear to Enter God’s Rest
- Every Christian Must Have Faith to Enter God’s Rest
- Every Christian Must Have Fight to Ender God’s Rest