A Book of Better Things - A Better Relaxation

Sermon Summary

This message looks at the fact that God wants His people to enter into His rest. Jesus came to make a way for us to have salvation and enter into God's rest and relaxation. The definition of relaxation is "the state of being free from tension and anxiety." The preacher of the book of Hebrews takes his hearers back to the days of the Hebrew people in the desert. They did not enter into God's rest because of eight different spiritual heart conditions. These are discovered by close examination of the text in chapter 3. The fix for each condition is discussed and then a look at chapter 4 reveal those same conditions and fixes apply to our lives today.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have there been times in your life when you experienced the kind of rest and relaxation talked about in Sunday's message? What was your walk with God like during those times?

2. One of the main spiritual heart conditions the children of Israel had was a deafened heart. They simply were not listening for God or to God. The writer of Romans tells us that we are to be living sacrifices. Maybe we should sacrifice a little time to listen. The pattern of this world is business, but if we take the time to allow God to renew our mind we can discover His will for our lives. When you look at your daily schedule do you find the time to listen to God? What steps could you take to better hear God's voice?

Rom 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3. For the remainder of your time look at the following list of spiritual heart conditions and discuss the ones you feel you've had the most difficulty overcoming. Look at the fixes listed in the notes and discuss how you might apply those fixes to your own life. (Hard heart, straying heart, ignorant heart, sinful and unbelieving heart, deceived heart, disobedient heart)

Titus 3:3  At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Titus 3:4  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
Titus 3:5  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:6  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Titus 3:7  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Full Sermon Notes
A Book of Better Things - A Better Relaxation

 "Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone in Your Presence!" This I need! This is what we all need! To know that in His presence my heart can become free! Free from fear, worry, guilt, and anxiousness! Today we're going to talk about something that is vital for this to happen, and just what is this something we're going to talk about? Let's pray and I'll let you know. PRAY!

In this series on Hebrews, titled, "A Book of Better Things," we've talked about how Jesus brought...

A Better Revelation
A Better Salvation
A Better Mediation

Today we're going to talk about something that at first glance may not seem to fit in this group. It may not sound so spiritual, or theological, but I can assure you it is both spiritually and theologically significant!

A Better Relaxation!

Before we read our text, let's look at the definition of relaxation...

Relaxation: The state of being free from tension and anxiety.

Is there anyone in this room that could use some of dat? The state of being free from tension and anxiety is a state I would like to visit! How about you? Well I must tell you that God dwells in that state and invites you to visit! In fact He invites us to live there! But if you choose not to, He won't force you to even visit, but I must tell you that there's no other way to inter into a better relaxation than to enter into God's rest! God invited the children of Israel to enter into His rest: they refused!

Let's go back and pick up once again some of the verses from last week's chapter because it transitions into our text for today. In Hebrews 3:7-19, our preacher gives his hearers and us a history lesson with application for life!

Way Back Then

Heb 3:7  So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,
Heb 3:8  do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,
Heb 3:9  where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.
Heb 3:10  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.'
Heb 3:11  So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"
Heb 3:12  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Heb 3:13  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Heb 3:14  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
Heb 3:15  As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."
Heb 3:16  Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?
Heb 3:17  And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?
Heb 3:18  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed ?
Heb 3:19  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Now when we first read this it may seem really harsh on God's part, but let me remind you of this: God had offered the children of Israel a covenant that if they would be His people He would be their God. They agreed & made a covenant! God kept His end of the bargain, they did not! The fact that they did not enter in to His rest was on them and not on God! It was their disobedience and unbelief that kept them from entering into God's rest and relaxation. He wanted them to have it so bad, but they refused over and over again. He had done so much on their behalf in order to get them out of their slavery and bondage to the Egyptians, but they wanted to go back! What? Yes! It's true!

So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied,

Exo 17:2  So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?"
Exo 17:3  But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"
Exo 17:4  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."

Poor Moses! He was in quite a quandary! As we talked about last week Moses was trying to mediate between a very rebellious people and the God who loved them. The people were stubborn and broke their covenant. God was faithful to His covenant, therefore, He could not allow them to inter into His rest while living outside the covenant agreement. So the fact that they did not enter God's rest was solely on the people. Make no mistake about it, there are important life lessons for us in this story. Let's go back and find out what kept the people from entering into the rest and relaxation God so much wanted them to have. Let me say this: Just as physical heart conditions can keep you from finding good physical rest, spiritual heart conditions can keep you from finding good spiritual rest. The children of Israel, the Hebrew people of Moses' day had eight serious spiritual heat conditions that kept them from entering into the rest and relaxation God wanted them to have, and they are listed in what we just read.

Heb 3:7  So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,

Condition #1 Deaf Heart

"If you hear His voice!" So many times God's Word, His wisdom, His promises, His life principles, and His offer of love and forgiveness, fall on deaf ears. Sometimes people just refuse to listen! Jesus often said this...

Mat 13:9  He who has ears, let him hear."

The Fix:
Take the Time to Listen

The preacher of Hebrews then speaks of another issue when he says...

Heb 3:8  do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,

Condition #2 Hard Heart

When a person stubbornly hardens their heart to the things of God they are on their own and rest and relaxation in this world is a pipe dream, a mirage, an unachievable goal. It's like seed sown on hard ground, the truth seeds just can't get in the heart.

The Fix:
Heart Transplant

Ezek 11:19  I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezek 11:20  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

The preacher of Hebrews then speaks of another issue when he says...

Heb 3:10a  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray...

Condition #3 Straying Heart

So many times we have hearts that are just unfaithful and stray away from God and chase the things of the world. Those things can never satisfy because they are lies. They can bring temporary distraction and entertainment, but not peace, rest, relaxation, or meaningful purpose!

The Fix:
A Focused Mind

Isa 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Isa 26:4  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

The preacher of Hebrews then speaks of yet another issue when he says...

Heb 3:10  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.'

Condition #4 Ignorant Heart

They did not know His ways! You can't enter into His rest and relaxation if you don't know His ways. His ways are the way to peace, rest and relaxation so it stands to reason you have to learn His ways!

The Fix:
An Educated Mind

There will be a whole sermon on this coming up! But for our purpose today you have to allow God to teach you His ways if you want to inter into His rest from  tension and anxiety! Jesus put it this way...

Mat 11:28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The preacher of Hebrews is on a roll and gives two more spiritual heart issues that are killers when it comes to entering the better life of rest and relaxation in Christ...

Heb 3:12  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Conditions #5&6 Sinful and Unbelieving Heart

A sinful heart leads to an unbelieving heart that turns away from God! Why? Because when a person lets their heart dive into selfish, self-indulgent sin, they have to give up on belief in God's ways or they have to deal with guilt and culpability! We all know that's not very relaxing or restful! Let me remind you that the very religious people of Jesus' day were convicted by His message so they sought to stop His voice by not only turning away from Him but by getting rid of Him on the Cross. Now let me give you a glimpse into the heart of God and just how bad He wants you to enter into His rest. Listen to God's fix, preached to the very folks who crucified Jesus preached through Peter on the Day of Pentecost.

The Fix:
Repent

Acts 3:17  "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.
Acts 3:18  But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.
Acts 3:19  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Acts 3:20  and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus.

Wow! If God offered forgiveness to the very ones who physically drove the nails, and flung the whip, and placed the crown of thorns, and drove the spear, I know He can forgive you and me! But there's two more spiritual heart conditions that the preacher of Hebrews mentions and they must not be overlooked or ignored...

Heb 3:13  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Condition #7 Deceived Heart

Sin can be so deceptive! It can look so good! It can seem so innocent, but it never is. It always comes with a price. And here's the deal, we've all been deceived by sin at one time or another! Paul wrote this to Titus...

Titus 3:3  At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

The Fix:
Truth

Psa 25:4  Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
Psa 25:5  guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psa 25:6  Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Psa 25:7  Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
Psa 25:8  Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
Psa 25:9  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

And now the last spiritual heart condition our preacher speaks about...

Heb 3:18  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed ?

Condition #8 Disobedient Heart

Remember this, God gave the children of Israel a choice in their relationship with Him. They chose to enter into a covenant relationship with God and promised to obey, but then refused to do so. This prevented them from entering into God's rest and kept them from interring the promised land. For some of us here today it may be that we are wondering why things are so hard, we're not being blessed, and can't find rest. The issue may be as simple as living in disobedience! God can't bless disobedience. Someone might say, but I do good things, and give and am really a basically good person. Here's what God says...

1 Sam 15:22  But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

The Fix:
Obey

I know, that sounds so simply but it's not so easy! Anyway, why should a person trust God so much that they would obey Him? Well, the answer is really simple…God can be trusted. God keeps His promises, every one of them! In fact, here's how all of this applies to us today, not just way back then, but here and now, right now!!

Right Now Today

Here's how we enter into the better relaxation and rest of God that Jesus came to give us...

Heb 4:1  Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Heb 4:2  For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Heb 4:3a  Now we who have believed enter that rest...

It all comes down to faith! That's right, faith. Stepping out on faith and taking God at His word and trusting Him to keep His word and accepting the gift of salvation and resting from the labor of trying to earn your way to heaven. It's about resting in His grace and His mercy, and His forgiveness and being clothed in His righteousness! Check this out…

Heb 4:6  It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
Heb 4:7  Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
Heb 4:8  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
Heb 4:9  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
Heb 4:10  for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Heb 4:11  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

What does it mean to that we enter God's rest and rest from our own work? We no longer try to work our way to heaven, but trust what Jesus did for us to get us to heaven and into the presence of God! Talk about rest! Relax God's got this!! In fact, the last few verses of chapter four, which we read last week explain perfectly what it means to rest from our work and trust Jesus...

Heb 4:14  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Heb 4:15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
Heb 4:16  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Anybody in here ever find themselves in difficult circumstances in life that overwhelm and you know you need help, and not just any help, but help in a God-sized way? Listen, when you have a believing heart and an obedient heart through faith in God then you can find peace and rest no matter what the external circumstances are around you. Why? Because you know it's not consequences of unbelief and disobedience you are dealing with but things outside your control. And if it's outside your control you put it in God's hands and trust Him to make a way for you! The rest and peace that brings is amazing. You can just relax because God's got it! It's His responsibility, and as a part of His covenant promise to you, you can rest assured He will take care of you! The Psalmist sang it well...

Psa 62:1  For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Psa 62:2  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psa 62:3  How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Psa 62:4  They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Selah

David was a King, but he had learned he couldn't always trust people because they would say one thing to his face and another behind his back. So he went on to say...

Psa 62:5  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
Psa 62:6  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Psa 62:7  My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Psa 62:8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah

There's an old hymn that just sums up this message so well. Listen

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;

While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;

Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;

What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.