On December 18th, I last presented a post in the series from my book, Rescued by Mercy (now called God Rescues From Our Messes). I now resume that series with Post #49 for January 8, 2019.
If you are like me, you might think of something you wish you’d done better this past year, especially in relationships, and think “If only I could go back and make it right!”
Human relationships can indeed be difficult, but with effort and the right attitude we can often forgive and return to a close relationship. But can we even begin to make ourselves right with God?
Justification, the work of making a person right with God, is God’s doing. Jesus died for us to make justification possible. When he has justified us, we will want to live righteous lives. It is not enough for us to say “once saved, always saved” and then not bother about obedience. However, our obedience is possible only through the grace of God.
“For this is what the Lord says, ‘Maintain justice and do what is right… Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath [for instance] without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil,’” (Isaiah 56:1-2).
We are expected to obey the Lord. To keep the Sabbath basically means to set aside one day a week for rest and for focusing our thoughts on the Lord. According to Romans 14:5-6, this day could vary.
God’s emphasis on the Sabbath is more than just resting on a certain day. In Hebrews 4:3-13 the writer says those “who have believed enter that rest” (3) and “whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his” (v.10). We are then told to “strive to enter that rest,” followed by a verse about the Word of God being living and active.
In other words, God’s main concern is that we believe his Word that says his grace is a free gift; we don’t have to work our way into God’s favor. I think the Sabbath Day was given to help us understand this. As God rested on the Sabbath, he wants us to rest in him.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8 & 9, RSV).
This rest is “peace with God now and eternal life in a new earth later,” according to the Life Application Living Bible note for Heb.4:8-11.
This type of righteousness is an act of love, service, and worship. Obedience to God shows we are members of the covenant community. Righteousness “is proof positive that we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col.1:12-13). The Spirit of Christ in us enables us to do right.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for forgiveness; you give it freely to those who believe in you, so we can rest in you. Amen.
Judith Vander Wege