OUR THEME FOR 2013 (Part 24): ENTERING INTO THE SABBATH REST

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

OUR THEME FOR 2013

(Part 24)

 

ENTERING INTO THE SABBATH REST

 

January 18, 2013

 

Today‚s readings:

Hebrews 4:1-11

Psalm 78:3-8

Mark 2:1-12

 

 

God is a God who works wonders. We can look to „the praiseworthy and mighty deeds of the Lord, the wonders that he performed.‰ (Ps 78:4b). These wondrous works started from creation, as „his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world.‰ (Heb 4:3c). Just look at the heavens. Be awed by what you see on a clear night or through a powerful telescope, but be more awed by what you do not see.

 

Now God accomplishes these wonders for the benefit of His people. How do we appropriate the wonders? We do so by faith. Faith works wonders.

 

Take the case of the paralytic. His friends brought him to Jesus through the roof. „Jesus saw their faith‰ (Mk 2:5a), and forgave and healed him miraculously.

 

In the work of the New Evangelization, we proclaim faith in Jesus. Such proclamation can bring faith, which brings salvation. However, for some, what they hear falls on barren soil. Thus there is no benefit for them. Thus „the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened.‰ (Heb 4:2b). Jesus saves, and people are saved through faith.

 

Now those of us who evangelize do have faith. In fact, we became evangelizers because we were first evangelized. „For in fact we have received the good news just as they did.‰ (Heb 4:2a). But faith means accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. That means we need to follow and obey him, in every way. If we do not, then we forego the benefits of salvation. So it is that „those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience‰ (Heb 4:6b).

 

We do not just hear the gospel, but we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and then we live the life of Christ. Therefore we need to grow in faith, and that means a number of things.

  • We must „not forget the works of God‰ (Ps 78:7b). We must remain in awe of Almighty God. We must thus look to His dominion over our lives. Once we lose our awe of God, then we can begin to marginalize Him, ignore Him, turn away from Him, and even become antagonistic to Him.
  • We must look to constantly „keeping his commandments.‰ (Ps 78:7c). We must know that since He is our Creator, He knows what is best for us, and we appropriate what is best for us as we obey His commandments.
  • We must not be like His people „whose heart was not constant‰ (Ps 78:8b). Our hearts and our gaze must be constantly fixed on God. We must strive to love Him with our whole being. We must not waver in our resolve to follow Him and live for Him.
  • We must not be like those people „whose spirit was not faithful to God‰ (Ps 78:8c). We must be faithful in every way to God‚s call. We must keep God‚s covenant and walk by His law (v.10).
  • We must always „put (our) trust in God‰ (Ps 78:7a). If He is our Creator who knows what is best for us, if Jesus gave his very life to redeem us, if the Holy Spirit grants us grace and empowerment, then we must confidently trust in God‚s ways, no matter how we fail at times to understand these.

Such posture of faith is for us who have already met Christ and are already living Christ, but is surely for those others who still have to meet Jesus. Thus we evangelize. In doing so, we do not neglect our closest neighbor, that of our own families. Thus „we do not keep them from our children, we recite them to the next generation‰ (Ps 78:4a). The faith is to be passed on from generation to generation. „What he commanded our ancestors, they were to teach their children; that the next generation might come to know, children yet to be born.‰ (Ps 78:5b-6a).

 

When we do the work of the New Evangelization, we should expect that faith will work wonders, as we serve and are instruments of the God of signs and wonders. This is the way by which many more will be attracted. „They were all astounded and glorified God‰ (Mk 2:12b).

 

Evangelization, now almost 2,000 years old, is not new. But the call to the New Evangelization is about second chances. Jesus commissioned his disciples 2,000 years ago. The Church has responded through the years. We too have responded. But now there is a call to a second wind, a renewal, a revival, a greater outpouring of the Spirit. Thus God has „once more set a day, Œtoday‚‰ (Heb 4:7a).

 

As we hear this call, what should be our response? „Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ŒHarden not your hearts.‚‰ (Heb 4:7c).

 

And what is the fullness of our response as CFC-FFL? It is to BE.LI.EV.E! When we meet, live and share Christ, then we can expect to enter heaven. This is our ultimate rest. „For we who believed enter into that rest‰ (Heb 4:3a). When our work on earth is done, then we enter into that rest. „And whoever enters into God‚s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his.‰ (Heb 4:10).

 

„Therefore, let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains‰ (Heb 4:1a). We look to E after we BE-LI-EV. „Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God.‰ (Heb 4:9). „Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest‰ (Heb 4:11a).

 

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