Wednesday, April 1, 2020
 
Dear Faith Family,
 
At the beginning of Sunday’s online worship service, Pastor Shelley talked about God resting at the culmination of his creation. God did not rest because he needed a break, but because he wanted to show us all was as it should be in the cosmos. God invited all humans into his rest, so all their work would flow from a place of rest in him.
 
However, human beings rejected God’s rest. They sought autonomy. They sought independence. Their sin had pushed them away from their rest in God alone and coerced them to seek satisfaction elsewhere. Anxiety, restlessness, and meaningless striving were some of the results of human rebellion. In fact, we can probably relate to one of our early church leaders, Augustine, who prayerfully concluded: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” ( Confessions , Book 1).
 
Even at a time when some are finding more available time than usual, we need real rest. Why? Because we are still restless. So, where can we find this rest?
 
This week our study from The Bible Project will focus on “Sabbath Rest”. Below you will find the link to a short video and options for discussion. If you are a part of a Sunday School Class or Life Group, consider connecting online together or in smaller groups or pairs. If you are not in a class or group, call a friend and invite them to join you in discussion. It’s simple: Schedule a time to talk. Watch the video. Review the questions. Interact on the theme. Pray together.
Discussion Questions:

Scripture Reading Option One: Genesis 2:1-3
  • How do you find yourself responding to this unwelcome slowdown of life? What thoughts and emotions do you experience? What fears are you aware of?
  • God's rest in Genesis 2 is all about filling a sacred space with his divine presence and celebrating the beauty and abundance of creation. The Sabbath practice is a way for humans to remember God’s presence and his ideal purpose for creation. What are some of the simple things you can celebrate or are grateful for? Who can you share that with this week?
 
Scripture Reading Option Two: Exodus 16:1-36
  • To observe Sabbath is to rest from one’s work. But work is a good and productive thing throughout Scripture, for example, it is one of the reasons God places the human in the garden of Eden—“to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). So why would God command a Sabbath rest from work?
  • The first Sabbath observance takes place in the wilderness in a time of scarcity. God wants Israel not to hoard or try to control, but to trust that he is their true source of provision and life. In what ways do you try to control things in your life or environment that are not in your control? Take a moment to let go of these things and commit to trusting God to provide instead.
 
Scripture Reading Option Three: Matthew 11:28-12:14
  • Jesus says that rest is found in him—specifically in following him or learning from him. What could this rest look like in your own life practically? What brings you life, makes you thrive, and/or allows you to trust and rest in God?
  • Jesus is not doing away with the concept of Sabbath but was defining what it meant: that the purpose of the Sabbath was mercy, and harmony or wholeness, not legalism. Does this change how you think about resting in the current situation in any way?
 
Enjoy your time together growing in spiritual wisdom!
 
Doug Ashley
Pastor - Longview EPC