Monday, August 19
Theme for the week:
Disciples Show Love to
Themselves by Appreciating
and Taking Time to Rest in Christ

Are we supposed to love ourselves? You won’t find a bible quote for it. The bible denounces self-love (2 Tim 3:2) and self-importance (Philippians 2:3).

But God does advocate a sense of worth (you are worth more than many sparrows – Matthew 10:31).

If you agree with God, the end result will be a sense of self-worth. As followers of Jesus, we’re taught to care for others as we care for ourselves—this is clearly a form of love.

Jesus even uses the word love to express such actions when he quotes Leviticus 19:18: Love your neighbor as yourself. Part of being prepared to care for others is providing care for ourselves (in ways we are capable of).

Hebrews 4:1-16

A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God

1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

12 For the word of God is alive 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. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

...for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,
just as God did from his. ~ Hebrews 4:10

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Pondering Point

The Sabbath – Resting in God. It’s not just about resting physically, though this is healthy and helpful. It’s not even primarily about physical rest. It’s more so about spiritual rest.

The Sabbath is about remembering that God loves you regardless of your spiritual efforts. As New Testament believers, “Sabbath is a great reminder that God is pleased with us – with you – through the work of Jesus our Lord. It’s about ceasing to strive as if life depends on you -- a.k.a. “resting” – and remembering that life depends on Him. Hence “resting in Him”.

• In Christ, I am able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, resting from my own efforts and finding mercy and grace to help me in any time of need.

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Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for providing rest for my soul. Father God, thank You for accepting Jesus’ work on my behalf that I might find rest in You. Let me work in life from a place of rest physically and spiritually. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, August 20
God’s Mission

Luke 6:1-10

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

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Pondering Point

Sabbath – a prescribed “time of rest” in the ten commandments – was a regular sore spot between the Pharisees and Jesus. These religious leaders had expanded this rule to a point where even basics like certain forms of eating or doing good (e.g. healing someone) could not be done on Sabbath.

Jesus brought perspective to the situation, back to its original intent – and back under Him. Today there is still benefit to the Sabbath Rest, but not for the sake of following rules; we live by the Spirit of Jesus and are not subject to it as a law (Romans 5:18).

In fact, Colossians 2:17 forbids judging anyone by how they celebrate the Sabbath. BUT, however you practice the idea of Sabbath, do so to the glory of God – with an eye on rest. What is the Spirit saying to us about resting in God? Can you actually stop and focus on God?

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Prayer

Father God, what do you want to teach me about rest? Teach me about resting in You spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and relationally. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, August 21
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Philippians 4:6-9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

Have you happened to hear the phrase, don’t let your stress turn into distress? It is not realistic to expect zero stress in life, but it is realistic to avoid the more harmful distress.

The answer lies in this teaching on prayer. Don’t let your anxieties rob you of your resting in God. Rather rob your anxieties of their power by taking them to God and let Him guard your heart and mind. Rest in Him. Move from distress to de-stress.

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Prayer

Peace can be had. I repeat, peace can be had in Christ Jesus. Get it by thankful prayer and petition before God. Now.

Thursday, August 22
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Ephesians 1:18b

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order
that you may know… the riches of his glorious inheritance in
his holy people
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

While this snippet is drawn from a longer prayer, we focus on this one piece for today: As we refer back to Ephesians 1:14, we find that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a deposit guaranteeing this rich inheritance.

That Spirit is how God helps us see the riches of our inheritance as His children. As Christians, we are not to be characterized by chasing after riches in this world, but rejoicing in the riches we have in Christ now and for eternity. Presuming that we have competing desires within us, let’s review our attitude toward riches and abundance.

Review the week

When it comes to God what riches do you seek? A deeper prayer life? Deeper knowledge of God’s Word? A deeper walk? More selfless service to others? Deep healing? Deep forgiveness? When it comes to your desires that compete with God, what do you seek an abundance of? Security? Comfort? Pleasure? Validation? Vengeance? Justice? Significance? Friendships? Relief? Escape? Power? Position? Reputation? Money? If you had money what would you do with it? How would it service your desire?

Repent (if necessary)

Highlight or write down the words that most relate to your desires and competing-with-God desires. Acknowledge the competing desires as first commandment issues (“having no other gods before Me’” Deuteronomy 5:7). If you have a few extra moments, ask God to give you insight as to why these desires matter so much to you: What is it you really seek in fulfilling these desires? Then have a conversation with Him about how you could let Him replace or meet those desires instead.

Return (as necessary)

Celebrate the truth of Psalm 27:9-10 that God continues to receive you, that He does not reject, nor forsake, nor turn away from you in anger. Ask Him teach you His ways and help you to let your Godly desires rule the day.

Psalm 27:9-10

9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

Friday, August  23
Discipleship Point and Prayer

At its very heart, being discipled is an exercise in humility. Being discipled means allowing other people to help you with your life and your character. The prideful soul will not allow it. No one will ever receive and benefit from discipling unless there is a depth of humility. Jesus told His closest friends that they would not even enter the kingdom of heaven, much less become great, unless they changed and humbled themselves (Matt. 18:1-4).

p. 89, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Father God, help me see the value of humbling myself and letting You disciple me through others. Further than that, help me put this philosophy into practice in my day to day schedule and agenda. May I live to Your glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Discipleship Point about the Role of Rest in Spiritual Growth

Just as corporate worship (generally Sundays) is centered on God, all of our lives are to be centered around God, His word, and His will for our lives. This is described as our “spiritual act of worship” in Romans 12:1.

During the week, expect God to be communicating; expect to receive blessings from God through his Word (read, heard, remembered) and his Body (interacting with other Christian friends and family). The Holy Spirit uses these and other life experiences to love you, bless you, shape you, use you and draw you to Himself. This is God’s heart for people, which we get a glimpse of through these words of Jesus: How often I have longed to gather [you] together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing (Luke 13:34).

Those words of Jesus -- "... and you were not willing", hard-hitting as they may be, are quite telling: Just as church members don’t benefit from corporate worship without actually being there, neither do we automatically benefit from daily worship opportunities (personal, cultivating, or group relationships) without actually engaging in them during your week.

This is why, at Hope, we highly encourage you to create space for such opportunities rather than merely hoping they happen. We encourage you to build God into your daily life as an act of worship. The question comes to ask: Is He worthy of this kind of intentionality? You already know Hope’s answer, but you have to make that decision yourself, not just in word, but in deed. As the disciple John says, let’s not love with words or speech (only) but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).

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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, help me build You into my daily life as an act of worship. Amen.

Saturday, August 24
Scripture's Story for the Week

Luke 6:1-10

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Mark 3:1-16

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Today's story of healing involves anger. “You wouldn't like me when I'm angry” were famous words of fictional scientist Bill Bixby, better known as the Incredible Hulk.

Bixby tried to avoid that Hulk-inducing emotion.

God himself warns us that man's anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires (James 1:20). So we are cautioned in Ephesians 4:26 not to sin when we get angry. In our story, we see both Jesus (Mark’s version) and his enemies (Luke’s version) get angry.

To Jesus' credit, He does not sin in His anger. In fact, He does great good. The same could not be said for His enemies, who in their anger go out and plot to kill an innocent man.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
~ Ephesians 4:26-27

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, this prayer seems rather straightforward: When I get angry, may I not sin. Instead lead me to do great good. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, August 25
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Galatians 6:18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

In this instance God’s blessing is directed toward our spirits, the part of us made alive in Christ through baptism and/or by hearing the Word. His grace made us alive in the first place and we pray He sustains us so that we abide in that Spirit-to-spirit living daily.

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