There Remaineth Therefore A Rest

Posted by on Jul 29, 2007

By Mike Withem, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

July 29, 2007

Sunday Morning

“There Remaineth Therefore A Rest”

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:1-12

Scripture Text: Hebrews 4:1-12

Introduction:

 

A.   (Illus.- Have you ever known someone, someone who was saved, someone who was faithful in church, someone who was very actively involved in some ministry in the church, who after a certain period of time became very discouraged, walked away from the ministry, and eventually quit attending the church altogether? Have you ever known someone who did that? You probably have!)

 

B.   (Illus.- I’ve been a pastor for over 33 years, and I have seen this happen many times. I have seen it happen to Sunday School teachers. I have seen it happen to bus workers. I have seen it happen to choir members. I have seen it happen to AWANA leaders and teen leaders. I have seen it happen to children’s church workers. While they didn’t always stop attending the church, they did walk away from their respective ministries. I hate saying this, but I’ve even seen it happen to fellow pastors, pastors who became so discouraged that they resigned their church and quit pastoring altogether.)

 

C.   There is an expression that I have heard used to describe this phenomena, and that expression is spiritual burnout!

1. You know, in my younger days, I didn’t believe in burnout, spiritual or otherwise.

2. I thought is was merely an excuse that lazy people used to get out of work.

3. However, as I have gotten older and wiser, I have changed my mind on this subject.

4. Do you know why I now believe in spiritual burnout?

5. Because I have experienced, first hand, how difficult and demanding ministry can be, not physically demanding, but rather spiritually demanding.

 

D.   Do you know why ministry is spiritually difficult and demanding?

1. It is because of the enemy that we face.

2. Listen to what Paul wrote in Eph. 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might….Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil….For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

3. Notice again the words, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”

4. Being involved in ministry is likened unto being in a wrestling match with the devil.

5. Every time we open God’s Word, either to…

-study,

-preach or teach,

-share the gospel with some lost soul,

every time we do that, the devil is right there opposing us, doing everything within his power to hinder our efforts.

6. This is why ministry, any ministry, is both spiritually difficult and demanding, and can very easily lead to spiritual burnout, if we are not careful.

 

E.   Our text this morning, however, teaches us how we can avoid this spiritual burnout. As we begin to examine our text, the first thing that we will focus our attention upon is…

 

I.       The Law Of The Sabbath.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 4 of our text, “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.”

 

B.   What is the law of the Sabbath?

1. The law of the Sabbath was a law that God gave to the children of Israel, forbidding them from doing any work on the seventh day of the week.

2. The law of the Sabbath was actually one of the Ten Commandments.

3. Listen as I read Exo. 20:9-10, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:…But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

4. While the law of the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments, it was actually practiced by Israel before the law was given.

5. We see this in Exo. 16:23-30.

6. I’m sure you remember that while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God fed them with manna from heaven.

7. Every morning, they would find the manna lying on the ground, and they were allowed to gather just enough to feed their family that day.

8. However, on the sixth day of the week, they were allowed to gather enough manna to feed their families for two days, instead of one.

9. The reason for this was that Moses did not want the people working on the Sabbath (seventh day).

10.   In fact, if my understanding is correct, God did not send the manna on the seventh day.

 

C.   Now this raises a question.

1. What purpose did God have in the law of the Sabbath?

2. The primary purpose, of course, was to recognize God as the Creator God, and to celebrate His creative work.

3. I just read to you Exo. 12:9-10 which record the law of the Sabbath, however, the very next verse (Vrs. 11) reveals to us the primary purpose of the Sabbath.

4. It says, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

5. And so, the primary purpose of the Sabbath was to recognize God as the Creator, and to celebrate His work of creation.

 

D.   Not only was the Sabbath a day to celebrate God’s work of creation, it was also a “sign” between God and Israel of the covenant (the law) that existed between them.

1. Listen to what God said in Exo. 31:16-17, “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant….It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever:”

2. Soon after God spoke these words, He gave to Moses two “tables of stone,” upon which were written God’s law.

3. Every time Israel observed the Sabbath, they were reminded of this very special event in their history.

 

E.   A third purpose for the Sabbath was to give Israel a day during which they could cease from manual labor and be physically refreshed.

1. Someone asked me once, “After creating the world and the universe in six days, why did God rest on the seventh? Was He tired?”

2. God, of course, did not need the rest because He never tires.

3. Mankind, however, does tire and does need a day of rest.

4. God rested on the seventh day to set an example for mankind.

 

F.    Now perhaps you are wondering what the law of the Sabbath has to do with avoiding spiritual burnout.

 

G.   This brings us to the second thing that I want us to consider this morning, and that is…

 

II.      The Leisure Of The Sabbath.

 

A.   I’m going to make a statement now that is going to sound radical, at least until I explain to you what I mean.

1. Here’s the statement: The way to avoid spiritual burnout resulting from doing ministry (God’s work) is to stop doing it.

2. Notice again Vrs. 9-10 of our text, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God….For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

3. Are you growing weary of your ministry?

4. Are you growing weary of doing God’s work?

5. Are you growing weary of serving God with your life?

6. If so, then stop doing it!

7. That’s the answer, that’s how to avoid spiritual burnout!

 

B.   But someone says, “Wait a minute, pastor, isn’t that a rather radical (drastic) solution to the problem? Sure, that’s one way to avoid spiritual burnout, but if we quit doing ministry, if we quit doing God’s work, if we quit serving God with our lives, then how is God’s kingdom going to be advanced?”

1. The answer is very simple.

2. The answer is to not only stop doing God’ work, but at the same time to begin allowing God to do His work in and through us.

 

C.   You see, here’s the problem.

1. Here’s why God’s people experience spiritual burnout.

2. Not because they are doing God’s work, but rather they are doing God’s work in their own strength.

3. The key to doing God’s work without becoming burned out, is to allow God to do His work in and through us.

4. Turn with me to 1 Cor. 15:9-10, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God….But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

5. In other words, Paul said, “Even though I don’t deserve to be called an apostle, I laboured (worked) harder than any of the other apostles, yet it really wasn’t I who worked, but rather God’s grace that worked in and through me!”

6. Paul said basically the same thing in Gal. 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

7. There’s one more passage that I want us to consider here, it is Col. 1:27-29, turn there with me, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:…Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:…Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

 

D.   If you know anything about Paul’s ministry as a missionary, you know that he never suffered from spiritual burnout.

1. Listen to his own words recorded in 2 Tim. 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”

2. I doubt any servant of God today can say that his or her ministry is more difficult or more demanding than was Paul’s, yet Paul “finished” his “course.”

3. Paul never suffered from spiritual burnout.

4. What was his secret?

5. His secret was entering into this Sabbath rest.

6. His secret was ceasing from his own works, and allowing God to work in and through him.

7. His secret was not relying on his own strength to do God’s work, but rather trusting in the power of God to strengthen him.

8. This is what Paul was referring to when he admonished the Ephesian believers to “…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10)

 

E.   (Illus.- I heard a comical story a while back that I think can illustrate what I am trying to get across this morning. A country bumpkin went into the local hardware store to buy a crosscut saw. The salesman asked him, “How many cords of wood can you cut with this saw in a day?” The guy said, “If I work hard and steady, I can cut six cords.” The salesman then went in the back of the store and brought out a brand new gas powered chain saw. He said, “Fellow, if you will buy this saw, I guarantee that you’ll be able to cut as many as 12 cords of wood in a day’s time.” Well, when the country bumpkin heard this, he said, “Wow,” and he bought the saw. About a week later, however, he brought the saw back to the store and demanded a refund. The salesman asks, “What’s the problem with the saw?” The guy said, “You said I could cut twelve cords of wood a day with this saw. I’ve used this saw for a week now, and the best I’ve been able to do is three cords. I did better with my old cross cut saw.” The salesman took the saw from him and said, “Let’s see what the problem is.” He pulled the starter cord and the saw started. When he did, the country boy jumped back and in a startled voice asked, “What was that?”)

1. We laugh at that story, but a lot of believers are doing the same thing that this country boy did.

2. They doing God’s work, but they are not utilizing the power of God that is available to them.

3. They are cutting wood without firing up the chain saw.

4. You can do it that way, but you’re probably going to wear yourself out in a hurry!!!

5. How much better and how much easier it is to utilize God’s power.

 

F.    Someone asks the question, “Will that really make that much difference?” This brings me to the final thing that I want us to consider this morning, and that is…

 

III.    The Lord Of The Sabbath.

 

A.   The answer is, “Yes, utilizing God’s power as we seek to serve Him will make that much difference!”

1. Do you know why? Because our God (the Lord of the Sabbath) is a powerful God.

2. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 12 of our text, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful.”

3. Now most of the time when you hear this verse quoted, it is quoted with reference to God’s written Word.

4. However, it’s primary reference is to God’s living Word, our Lord Jesus Himself.

5. What this verse is saying is that Jesus is both alive and powerful.

6. If we allow Christ to live in and through you, there’s no way that we are going to be defeated or become spiritually burned out.

 

B.   But someone says, “What about the devil. We still have to deal with him, even if we allow Christ to live in and through us.”

1. That’s true, yet the Bible promises us in 1 John 4:4 that “…greater is he that is in” us, “than he that is in the world.”

2. That’s a precious promise indeed.

 

C.   Now all of this raises a question.

1. How do we enter into this Sabbath rest?

2. Our text admonishes us in Vrs. 11, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,” but how do we do this?

3. Just like the Canaan rest that we learned about two weeks ago, the key is to believe God’s promises.

4. Promises like Isa. 41:10, that says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

5. Promises like 2 Cor. 12:9, that says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

6. Promises like Phil. 4:13 that says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

7. Whether we realize it or not, the reason that we try to do God’s work in our own strength, is because we don’t believe these promises.

8. If we did, we would rest ourselves in them!

Conclusion:

 

A.   I want to conclude this morning by asking you a very personal question.

1. What kind of a Christian are you?

2. There are basically three kinds of Christians.

3. First of all, there are those Christians who couldn’t care less about doing God’s work.

4. Secondly, there are those Christians who are doing God’s work, but they are doing it in their own strength. (They will burn out one day.)

5. Finally, there are those few Christians who are not only are doing God’s work, yet they are not doing it, but Christ is doing it in and through them.

6. They have learned the secret of entering into their Sabbath rest.

7. What kind of Christian are you?

8. Perhaps you are not even a Christian!