Making an Effort to Rest

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2019-07-28
  • It sounds like a contradiction when we are told:
    “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest” (Heb 4:11)
  • But actually it is not, it is one of the keys to a fruitful, productive and stress-free life.

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Sermon Outline - Making an Effort to Rest

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

  • Do you ever feel you just want to lie down on the bed, cover your eyes and forget about the world?
    • A few years ago I walked into our bedroom and saw our cat doing this:
    • Do you ever feel like this?

Timothy asleep

Timothy asleep

  • Last week I spoke about Jesus’ Design for the Christian Life

Jesus’ design for the Christian life

  1. Believe and be baptized
  2. Live as part of the world, yet be clearly different to it
  3. We are sent to represent Jesus to the world—be 100% dedicated to this
  4. We cannot do this without being transformed by God’s truth (given to us in the Bible)
  5. The world learns of God’s love by seeing our love and unity
  6. This is only possible by the life of Jesus in us (through the Spirit)
  7. Our destiny: with Jesus, at his side, forever
  • Sometimes it can seem too hard for us.
  • You have something you need to do, but you don’t have the energy to do it.
    • It seems like it is just too hard.


  1. The Problem of Rest
  2. Hebrews 3&4
  3. The Solution
  4. How to put this into practice
  • The problem is that we seemingly have two contradictory messages in Scripture about rest.

1. The Problem

  • In Hebrews chapters 3 & 4 we are called to enter God’s rest:
    1. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.

Can you see the problem? How can it be “rest” and making every “effort” at the same time?

  • If you suffer from insomnia, you know that the more effort you put into “resting” the more it slides away from you.
  • There are similar problems when we look at Jesus’ teaching

Matthew 7

  1. Enter through the narrow gate… the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life and there are few who find it.”
  • But Matthew 11…
  1. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  2. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me
    for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
  3. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
  • Which is it? easy or difficult?

Labour is often spoken of highly:

  • I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase... 8Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. [1 Cor 3:6–8]
  • Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Cor 15:58]
  • Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29To this end I also labour, striving according to his working which works in me mightily. [Col 1:28–29]
  • v.28 the word is for hard physical labour, like digging in a field

Hebrews 3 & 4

  1. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
    “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!
  2. “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    in the day of testing in the wilderness.
  3. “There your fathers tested me and tried me,
    and they saw my works for forty years.
  4. “Therefore, I became provoked at that generation
    and said, ‘Their hearts are always wandering
    and they have not known my ways.’
  5. “So I made a promise in my anger, ‘They will never enter my rest!’”
  6. So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.

Chapter 4

  1. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.

based on NET Bible with some changes by amf

3. The Solution

Lost in Marseilles

Lost in Marseilles

Vacation in Churchill

Vacation in Churchill

3. The Solution cont’d

  • It is all about our attitude -See notes below
  • There are two ways we can fail to enter this rest:
  1. Not resting from our “own works” – “the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works” Heb 4:10
  2. No effort to submit to Jesus – “Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest 4:11
  • Even the work we do is actually Jesus living in us:
  • Gal 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • Eph 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”
  • It is all about our attitude

Three ways to respond

Three ways to respond

Answer is 2 parts: passive and active

  • Passively: we stop taking responsibility for securing our own future by stress-filled effort
    • Content with the “Promised Land” Christ offers us
    • Believe that he will empower us
  • Actively: Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me... For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
    • there is a yoke
  • Actively: we follow the command to “take up our cross” in the strength that Christ supplies
    • “except the seed fall into the ground and die”
  • Actively: follow this path of submissive obedience, because of love, not to earn anything
    • laying down our lives as Jesus did
    • trusting that God will raise us up as he did Jesus

4. How to put this into practice

  • see notes below for each point
  • Are you searching for an Eden, a safe resting place, a Promised Land”?
  • Are you anxious?
  • Or are you failing to enter Christ’s rest because you can’t be bothered?

Challenges to respond

  1. Are you trusting Jesus with your life?
  2. Are you labouring under weights that Jesus has not given you?
  • Churchill, meeting
  1. Are you actively following the path of submissive obedience, taking the risk of trusting Jesus?
  • Sump rope

Updated on 2019-07-21 by Andrew Fountain