Jesus: Our Better Rest

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Good morning!
Today I would like to start out with a simple question. I would just like to know if any of you have, at any point recently, felt rundown or tired or exhausted?
See that’s a little bit of a loaded question because I know that I have and I also know that you have too. I know that I come into contact with many many people every single day that feel the same way, at they wits end. It seems like in this society today we are constantly bombarded from every side with things that we are supposed to be doing, tasks that we need to complete, futures to plan and prepare for, and any number of things to worry about and that are vying for our time and our attention.
Here are some recent headlines from a news aggregation website. I didn’t cherry pick these, I just listed them from the top: largest wildfire in Texas history, teens stepping up to fight wildfire, devastating blow to cattle ranches, Trump up 5% in poll, voters doubt Biden leadership, gold buying surges as election, cell outages fuel “end of times” fears. These are just the first six stories. There are quite literally hundreds more. These kind of things are what we are bombarded by constantly, in addition to family obligations, work obligations and a million other things.
This is not new by any means, this is something that has plagued humanity for all of history. This very thing is one of the reasons why the Bible talks at length about making God our singular highest priority. God is well aware that the things in this world are all looking to pull our attention away from him. One of the biggest consequences of our attention not being on God is that we quickly fall victim to being overburdened and just flat out tired.
Recently, I watched a movie called The Hill. I was going to show you a clip but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without pirating the movie so I’m just going to have to explain it and hope that you can imagine it. Now I don’t recommend many movies but this is one that I would highly recommend everyone go out and see. It’s on Netflix and I’m sure there’s other places maybe you could find it eventually as well, but regardless, it is a movie that is totally worth watching. Trying not to spoil this movie, I want to just kind of set up a scene for us real quick that really speaks to what we’re talking about today and how we are overburdened and overwhelmed by life and how sometimes we just need rest.
In this movie, there’s a family and the family consists of the husband and wife, the wife’s mother, and three small children, two brothers and a sister. Dad is a pastor. The mom is a stay at home mother and the three children or school-age children and the mother-in-law or grandma lives with them. In this movie, as it is so many times in life, things are going well but then change.
Life is certainly not perfect and it can be hard, but everything seems to be going together in a good fashion. Now you’re probably familiar with what inevitably happens in life when things like this go on It seems like the bottom falls out. So, again without spoiling the movie too much, in this particular scene things are going well. The pastor is preaching a message in church one Sunday, and looks over the congregation. He has begins to address some behaviors that he has been convicted to tell them are wrong. Well, this goes over about as well as you would expect. He shows up for the next Sunday service and he’s met outside by most of the congregation, who now inform him he is no longer the pastor.
Well, true to his calling he packs up, gets his family out of the parsonage by the next morning, and starts driving down the road with all of the belongings tied on top of the old car looking for another place to spread the gospel. Now it’s well-known in this movie that he and his family are not at all well off. Actually the family barely makes ends meet. As he’s driving, the entire family is asleep in the old beat up car and all of a sudden his engine starts to overheat. He pulls the car over and looks in the mirror and sees his family sleeping. At this point he becomes totally overwhelmed with life; with the needs of his family, with the job that God has given him, with all the things that are expected of him. He gets out of the car, pops the hood, goes around the back, and basically looks to be on the verge of somewhat of a nervous breakdown. He gets down on his knees and he begins to pray to God. “God we know you have the power, we know you have the ability, please just help me and send me a sign that I’m doing what you want me to be doing.” At this point the tire that’s closest to him blows out. This wakes up the entire family, the pastors exasperated, the family comes out and is trying to console him, but you can tell that the world has almost gotten the best of him. It’s at this point that the little boy comes up to him and holds his hand to comfort him as they look up into the sky… and it begins to thunder. The pastor looks down and says “we have got to be the unluckiest family in all of Texas” and the little boy looks lovingly at him and says “probably Oklahoma too”.
I tell you all of this because as I was watching it, it seemed a perfect example for so many of us as we go through life. One of the things that we look for the most in this life is peace and rest from all of the hard times that we go through as humans. And as much as we look, in as many places as we try to find that rest, we are completely unsuccessful at finding it.
It seems that we can go our entire lives and look for peace and rest. We will look backwards to the “good old days” (the Bible warns against this by the way) and we will look forward to what maybe the future promises. We will try to find rest through things that the world promotes such as distractions in the form of hobbies, sports, hunting, fishing and you always still come back and are again not at peace and are not rested. Some go further and look for rest in alcohol, drugs, sex and many other illicit activities. What they find is nothing… they find no rest. Some even take it to the farthest extreme and in their search for rest from the worries of this world, they commit suicide in an attempt to finally escape and achieve peace or rest.
This is the state that we find ourselves in in our modern culture. Sometimes I think that it is worse now that it is ever been and sometimes I’m torn and think that it has probably always been like this, maybe in cycles throughout history some better times some worse times but regardless, this is not a new story.
This is why Paul goes to such great links to let us know there is only one place that we can find true rest. There’s only one place that we can find the best rest. There is only one place where peace is truly found. That is in Jesus Christ.
Today we are going to look at Hebrews chapter 4 verses 8 through 16 and in these verses, we are going to find where the true rest that humanity seeks comes from.
I’m gonna read these to you right now. Hebrews chapter 4, verses8 -16 says,
Hebrews 4:8–16 (ESV)
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In these verses, we find so much information about this rest that we are seeking.
Let’s take a moment to list out the things that we find here in these verses.
Number one, we find that no one can give this rest but God. Verse 8 says for if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on, so then there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God.
What we see here is that one of the greatest leaders of the children of God was not capable of giving his people the type of rest that they so desired.
Joshua did give rest in his physical sense. Joshua led the children of Israel into the promised land, he led them to conquer their enemies, and to settle after years of wondering in the wilderness and being delivered out of slavery. In a physical sense that should’ve been rest, however, in a spiritual sense the children of Israel were still very much without rest. Even though Joshua desired to give the Israelites the rest that they wanted, he could not give them that rest.
God addressed this and spoke of a day later on, where the children would receive the rest that they desired.
Number two in verse 10 we find that whoever enters this rest that God has for us will be able to rest in the same manner that God did on the seventh day. Well, what did God do on the seventh day? The answer is nothing… he created nothing.
He took time to sit back and enjoy what he had done in the previous days. God took this time not because he needed a rest. God is not human. God is so far above us that we could not compare, God did not need to rest. God desired to rest. God, desired to sit back and enjoy what he accomplished, and during that time on that seventh day, he did nothing. His work ceased.
What we have to look forward to is a time where all of the things vying for our attention and vying for our time and concern cease to have the ability to come between us and God. This is the type of rest we have to look forward to. God gave us the perfect example of rest. Work 6 says and then rest.
Our society takes this completely for granted. I would encourage all of you to become serious about including a sabbath rest in your lives. After all, Jesus himself told us that the Sabbath was made for man!
Number three we find in verse 11 that this rest takes some effort on our part. If it did not, then verse 11 would not say, “let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
What does this sentence tell us? Well, by saying that we need to strive to enter God’s rest there is some work that must be done. But what kind of work must we do to enter that rest? Thankfully, the end of the sentence tells us! We must be obedient to God. We must do the things that God tells us to do, we must value the things that God tells us to value, and we must accomplish the work that God tells us to accomplish during the times that are appointed for us to work.
You see God makes it very plain in his word that we are indeed to work.
We are supposed to work in a physical sense at our job, at whatever skill he has given us and we are to work in a spiritual sense with the gifts that he has given us in those areas.
We are never called to be lazy, the book of Proverbs tells us at length what God’s feelings are towards his people that are lazy and who refuse to work. In fact, elsewhere in the word, it tells us that if you refuse to work, you will and should starve.
No, God does not expect us to be lazy, but he does give us a promise of rest after we have accomplished the work that he has guided us to do.
So in that line of thinking, I would encourage all of us to work wholeheartedly at the jobs that we’ve been given by God.
And if at times in our lives we seem to have nothing to do… go find a job. Go serve others, go find places to make yourself useful, both to yourself and others and to God. God never tells us to go work as long as that work isn’t beneath us or we aren’t too good for it. In fact, God honors the people that do the most selfless things and do the jobs that are not “flashy”.
I really believe that one part of the concept of rest that we never seem to think about is that the Bible tells us that we will never have rest without having worked first. I don’t think we look at that nearly enough. I think at times in our lives, we get down on ourselves, and I have been guilty of it as well, and we think that the whole world is against us, and that we just deserve a break.
The real thing to realize here is that we live in a fallen world. We don’t deserve anything short of death. Anything apart from that we have been given is a tremendous mercy, and is the definition of grace itself.
So, in verse 11 we see that we need to strive or work to enter Gods rest, and that there is a danger that we could not make it into that rest if we are disobedient. So we must strive or work to be obedient to God.
Number four, we must do that work because in verse 12 God tells us that his word is living and active and is sharper than any two edged sword, that it pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Verse 13 says no creatures are hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him, whom we must give account.
Church… he knows our hearts. He knows the innermost feelings that we have. He knows when we are being lazy. He knows when we are not being good stewards of the gifts that he has given us. He knows when we are trying to weasel our way out of some duty or work that he is appointed for us to accomplish. He knows all of these things.
His word divides our souls and our spirits to the point that he knows all there is to know about what we think, and what our motives are. God is faithful to give us rest, God wants to give us rest, he desires to give us this good gift, however, make no mistake about it… it takes work.
We must wake up every day, willing to submit ourselves to him, and be obedient for us to enter into this rest. When we do, however, there is no rest that could ever be greater than the rest that God will give us from the things of this earth.
Lastly, we know that God is able to give us this rest because he sent his son to die on the cross for us, in order that we may have access to this rest. Verses 14-16 address this.
Not only did he send his son on the cross, but he sent him to live over 30 years in the fallen world that we have to face. Not only did he send him to die, and to live over 30 years in this fallen world, he allowed his son to be tempted exactly like we are in every respect.
His son overcame every temptation without sinning, and willingly allowed himself to die on the cross so that we could draw near to God’s throne and experience this rest. This is what verses 14,15 and 16 tell us.
Jesus is our high priest who has passed through the heavens. We must therefore hold tight to our confession that he is our savior. He can identify with every weakness that we have because he has experienced those. Every temptation that we have experienced He has also experienced and triumphed over.
Because of that and because of who he is, like 16 says, we can now with confidence or with boldness draw close to the throne of grace, and when we do, when we draw close to God upon his throne, we receive mercy, and we find grace to help us in our greatest time of need.
What is mercy? As I tell the youth all the time mercy is not getting what we deserve. What do we deserve? We deserve death. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Romans 3:23 also tells us that every person is a sinner for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So we deserve death, the mercy that God gives us is to forgo the penalty that we deserve.
We also see in Hebrews 4:16 that at his throne we find grace. I’ll ask the same question, what is Grace? Well, Grace is a gift that we don’t deserve. It is getting something that we could never deserve. That gift is eternal life that gift is eternal rest. That gift is rest that we can get nowhere but the throne of God through his son Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice that he gave.
So, church, today I challenge you to examine your soul and examine your heart. Be honest with yourself because God sees through it even when we try and deceive ourselves.
I know that each and every person in this room is at the end of their rope in some way. Some further along than others. To paraphrase an old quote that has actually been enormously helpful in my life… the advice I would give you is that when you are at the end of your rope… tie a knot in it and hang on because we have hope for something more. We have hope for rest. We have hope for a better rest through Jesus Christ.
Now if you are here, and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I have bad news, it is impossible for you to receive real rest. You can go your entire life and you can search for rest in all the corners of the Earth. You can partake in all of the distractions and human recipes for rest, but they will all be fruitless. At the end of the day, you will never be at rest without Christ.
The good news is, though, that Jesus Christ is here. The spirit of Christ draws us to him, and if he is pulling on your heart today, all you must do is invite him in, accept him as your Lord and savior, be willing to admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior that you are deserving of death, and that you could never be made right with a living God without the sacrifice of Christ.
Simply believe that Jesus is, indeed, who he said he is and did the things he says he did. When you do this, this rest can be yours. Because now we can have faith that there’s something more than this disgusting fallen world that we look around and see every day.
And without the hope that there was something better, life would be a miserable place. But if you know in your heart that you have a savior that paid the price that you owed for the sin separated you from God, now you can have true peace.
Now you can have true rest even in all of the hard times that this life will bring. You can have hope that can never be shaken and never be taken away.
Church, this is the point of the rest that God offers us. To rest in him, and to have faith in him as our heavenly father, as the perfect father, that cares and loves for us, that he will take care of every need and that he will walk beside us through every storm and every unimaginable hard time and that he will never leave us or forsake us. This is the better rest that Jesus offers us.
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