Let us pray: Dear Savior, we need rest for our souls and our bodies. You made us that way at creation. And in Sunday, Your holy day, we find that rest. Today empower each of us to make use of such rest so that we can face each week refreshed and rejuvenated to do our best for You and Your kingdom. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS IN CHRIST, IN WHOM WE HAVE REAL REST!
TEXT: Hebrews 4: 9-16
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
I hadn’t seen him for a few years. He was never a “skinny-minny” but now he’s rather rotund, carrying another 50lbs since we last got together. His color wasn’t good, either. He lives in one of those “sunny” states, but his gray pallor and the bags under his eyes spoke of both a lack of sleep and a problem in absorbing nutrients. We ended up eating lunch together in a group. We eventually came to the topic of health. I took my opportunity, discussing eating nutrient-rich food and getting regular sleep. He scoffed at my suggestions for a healthier life. “Your metabolism slows down as you get older and you don’t need as much sleep as when you’re younger” was his reply. It turns out he’s only getting a few hours of rest each night and consuming vast amounts of coffee to keep going. I let it go, as it wasn’t the place to discuss personal issues. But my brain screamed out: “Warning! Warning!” I switched topics.
America is facing a huge sleep deficit among the populace. Folks, this isn’t good. It’s a vicious cycle of too little glutathione in our bodies due to calorie rich and nutrient deficient diets which then translates into poor sleeping leading to a lack of melatonin production in the brain which leads to less and less glutathione production. This in turn, fosters poorer sleeping habits. And the cycle goes on and on.
God knew what He was doing when at the end of creation He declared the 7th day to be “a day of rest.” The writer of Hebrews picks up on this necessity in our lesson: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their (the unbelievers) example of disobedience.”
The modern mantra is: 24/7. That is, we take working around the clock as a badge of honor. We all need to resist that viewpoint. It’s not a badge of honor but of disobedience to God’s wisdom. Your body uses sleep as a reset mechanism. Sleep allows the internal organs to rejuvenate. It allows your body to process emotional baggage accumulated each day. It’s basically a Godly reset for your body and thus your health. God made us this way. My friend didn’t want to admit any of this. And thus, his extra weight came about as a direct result of thwarting his body from undergoing this reset each night which slowed his metabolism, hence the extra pounds.
Ultimately, rest-deprived Americans can trace their problem back to a lack of spiritual rest. That’s the basic point of our lesson. The Sabbath rest, Sunday for us, isn’t just about taking a break and renewing the body; it’s also about renewing the soul. It’s a day for pouring the nutrient-dense Word of Eternal Life into our souls. That’s why worship on Sunday pays such wonderful dividends to our entire being. Think about it. On Sunday at church God comes to us and feeds us with forgiveness for all our sins, especially the ones done that week. In an instant, in the absolution, they are gone, removed, eradicated from our spirit. Freed from all this negative baggage, our bodies are then able to process and handle much of bad stuff we’ve been accumulating. Our subconscious mind doesn’t eat away at our well-being any more. This is the Holy Spirit’s doing. It is a pouring out of His power upon us. And since God the Spirit is goodness itself, the results in our bodies and souls are good and holy, too.
It should feel good when to leave church each week. You come burdened. But you leave refreshed. I know Monday morning is coming and Sunday night often means fitful sleeping for many. But it doesn’t have to for you! Not if you feed your souls and actually rest your bodies on Sunday! God’s holy day also serves as a reminder of the greater rest, the greater joy of our ultimate rest in heaven. In glory humans cannot play games with themselves or others. In heaven total honesty reigns. Folks, that’s both liberating and freeing! And if we make use of the earthly Sabbath, we will receive a portion of that liberation here and now! Why? How? Again, listen to the words of our text: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eye of him to whom we must give account.” In heaven there are no secrets. On Sunday morning in the confession of sins there are no secrets, either. Isn’t it a restful blessing to be able to get rid of all that junk each week by coming to church and having the Spirit remove it?!
Or course, we fitful humans still retain our headstrong natures. Sometimes that exerts itself by ignoring the needs of our souls and worshiping St. Mattress on Sunday morning because we partied too much on Saturday night. So, we willfully break the 3rd commandment and deprive ourselves of God’s restful soul food. This, in turn, burdens our conscience a bit, as well it should. But, the writer of Hebrews addresses that issue, too. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. But we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
So, Jesus had times when He was tempted to skip Sabbath day worship, too. “He was tempted in every way, just as we are.” But unlike us, He never gave in to it. He was strong because we are weak. And His strength is then transferred to us by faith via the forgiveness of the cross. So, in your time of need, including your violations of the 3rd commandment, plead His mercy and your failings will be and are covered over! Thus armed with such grace, resolve to bask in Godly rest.
One last thought: the Sabbath rest isn’t just about the spiritual, it’s also about the physical. God made our whole being. One ends up supporting the other. So use your spiritual rest to support and build up your physical rest and vice-versa. The physical resurrection of Christ’s body proves that God values our bodies as much as He does our souls. We should, too. Amen