The Gospel of Luke: Settled in Spirit
From the creation of the world, God provided us a rhythm of life to restore our souls and bring balance to our lives through the gift of Sabbath. If you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed, or overworked, remember God has so much more for you. He created you in His image and invites you to enter into His rest. Ryan Bramlett • The Gospel of Luke: Settled in Spirit • Luke 6:1-11
Series: The Gospel of Luke: Settled in Spirit
Message: A Rhythm of Rest
Pastor: Ryan Bramlett
Study Guide (PDF)
September 13, 2020 Notes
The Gospel of Luke | A Rhythm of Rest
Ryan Bramlett | Luke 6:1-11
Well Traders Point, welcome. How are you guys doing? Everyone online, so glad that you are watching today. And we even have some team members in the room, and not just in this room, but at every campus right now for the first time in a long time. I want to welcome everyone at our campuses.
And if you’re wondering why we have people in the room, why we have people at every campus, it’s because we are gearing up for next Sunday, September 20, when we regather. We’re going to invite the city.
So, if you’re in the area, we would love for you to come through. Check out a service.
If you’re not, or you can’t—no worries, Traders Point Online is here. We’ve actually created some stuff to help you get connected.
You can find that on our app and website. Be sure that you check that out.
But, also, as we get ready for the 20th, I want to let you in on something. Brockett is going to be back to preach a message from his heart. So we’re going to take a break in the Luke series that we’ve been in and Aaron is going to preach a series called Behind the Mask.
And here’s what that is. We are in some divisive times that are only magnified by distance, right? We are six feet apart. We talk through a screen and over a keyboard, behind a mask, and it becomes really easy to forget who is on the other side of the mask, on the other side of the screen.
And what we want to do is to do everything we can, as a church, to bring unity in this season. So what we’re going to do over the next few weeks is actually a prayer of Jesus’. It’s one of his last prayers before he ascends, it’s a prayer of unity. And that’s the kind of church we want to be—unity for us and unity for our city in this next season.
So, I’m telling you.
September 20 Behind the Mask. You do not want to miss it. Make sure that you get back to check it out next Sunday.
But as far as today goes, we are continuing in our series in Luke. And the subtitle of it has been Settled in Spirit. And that’s a powerful title. Here’s one way to think about that. Settled in spirit is to be satisfied in your spirit. To be content in your spirit. All of you, every part of you.
And maybe right now, if you are putting up a title for this season, it would not be satisfied or content.
Maybe you would say, “It’s hard, it’s a tired spirit.” Anybody else here today just a little more tired than you have been in the seasons before? It’s okay. It’s okay to admit.
It reminds me of this Jim Gaffigan quote.
Someone asked him, “Hey, what’s it like having four kids. And he said, “You want to know what it’s like having a fourth kid? Imagine you’re drowning…then someone hands you a baby.”
Like, for a lot of us, I think there is a lot of truth in that. There’s truth to both parts. Because before this crazy season happened, before the global pandemic was dropped on us—it’s not like we were at peace, it’s not like life was chill.
But if someone asked you, “Hey, what’s life like now?” you want to know what life’s like? Well, it’s like you are drowning and then someone hands you a global pandemic. And he’s a heavy baby. We’ll call him Covi, alright?
In this season we are now more responsible for things that we weren’t responsible for at all in the first place. Like, parents of school-aged kids. You are now a parent, you are now a teacher, you are now a principle. You are now realizing that you don’t understand fractions or the basics of the English language and you’re trying to teach what you don’t know.
For a lot of us, it was really cool when this thing hit because we could work from home. But now that we can work from anywhere, it means it’s really easy to work any time. So, now we’re just constantly even more tired than we were before.
And as things get moving faster and faster, it feels like we’re just tired. More tired than we’ve ever been.
And we’ve become more responsible. And these kind of structures that we have placed in our lives, whether that was a school structure, work structure, home structure—these lines we have built to hold some sanity have now collapsed and we just feel tired, wondering when is this going to end?
And I do want to say that that’s a lot. But I want to take a moment and just pause and to say, look at you. If someone would have told you a year ago that you were going to be doing all of the things that you are doing in this season, then one: you probably would have punched them in the face, like, “Don’t speak that kind of evil around me. What’s wrong with you?”
But two: you wouldn’t have believed you could do it. You would say, “I don’t have the time. I couldn’t possibly do all of that.”
But look at you doing it. So, before we get rolling just celebrate yourself for a second. You probably haven’t done that. You haven’t felt worthy to celebrate. Let’s celebrate. You’re doing so much.
At the same time, I think it’s safe to say that life has to be more than that, right? Life has to be more than just making it, just limping to the next check point. Bobbing up and down just trying not to drown. It has to be more. More than just waiting for the tide to lower a little bit so we can get back in the water and continue on with life. And you’re right. That’s what today is about. That God actually has something for that.
Take a look at this:
God provides a rhythm that restores our souls, relieves the tension of work, and brings balance to our lives.
Does this sound like something anybody could use right now? Yes! To be restored. To be relieved. To have balance. That is something that God wants for you. And maybe that’s surprising. But God wants you to be settled in spirit. God wants you to be satisfied. God wants you to have peace. And that’s what we’re going to be looking at today.
If you have a Bible, you can flip or scroll there—we’re going to pick up in Luke, chapter 6, starting in verse 1. If you don’t have a Bible, don’t worry about it. Everything will be on this screen next to me.
By the time we pick up in Luke, chapter 6 there is some tension in the air.
And we’ll pick up on it pretty quickly as we read these first few verses. Take a look at this. It says:
“One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. But some Pharisees said, ‘Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?’”
Now, let’s just stop right there because to understand what is happening and what’s going to happen, we have to understand one of those first few words in the Scripture that we just read.
And that word is:
Sabbath, and maybe when you read across that you were like, “I kind of think maybe I know what that is.” Or maybe, “I have no idea what that is.” And that’s not surprising. No big deal. But, like I said, to understand where we’re going to go next, we have to understand the context of this word. Not only what it means for us, but what it would have meant for an ancient, Jewish person. What is this thing?
And what we’ll se is that the Sabbath is something that was actually there from the very beginning.
And it’s a really big deal, and for good reason. It was created by God as a gift for us. And here’s what it was. One day every week would be set aside for God. Mankind would work six days but then, on the seventh, it was a day to rest, to delight in God, to worship. A day to be restored.
And this rhythm of life is actually found in the first pages of the Bible. The creation story, as we see it in Genesis, 2. God himself models this rhythm.
Take a look at this. It says:
“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
So this is the idea behind the Sabbath. We see that it picks up in creation and God, himself, models it. But maybe you’re reading that and you’re like, and you’ve always been surprised by this, “What do you mean, God rested? Like, did he throw his back out filling up the ocean? Was he tired? Speaking the cosmos into existence, did he need to sit down for a second?”
No. It’s not like us. Like when we want to rest after a long week, we stumble through the door on a Friday night and we just want to put on our jammy jams and get on the couch and rest.
That’s not what God was doing here. You see, God was actually completing a work and then making a deliberate choice to rest. Because, to God, this is what it means to rest:
To rest is to be satisfied
Not to rest because you’re tired, but to rest because you are satisfied.
And when you think about it, this is the only time you can really get some good rest; it’s when you are satisfied.
Have you ever been brought to this moment where you were working and you just took a step back and you were like, “Wow, this is really good.”? That’s what God does.
If you read it in Genesis, you’ll see that God makes things every day and every day he like outdoes himself. He steps back and he’s like, “Wow, that was really good.” And then the next day he’s like, “No, no, no. That was even better.” And by the third day, fourth day, he’s losing his mind up there. Like, “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen.” And then he stepped back, and he rested.
Maybe you’ve felt a piece of this. Maybe it was like you finished a piece of art, or a project. You did some landscaping. You planted a tree. Maybe for you it was when your kids left home, and they went off to college and they went to live on their own. And as they left you took a breath and you were satisfied. You looked out and you saw that it was good. That is the kind of relief, the kind of peace, the kind of satisfaction that it talks about when God rested.
So, he speaks it into creation, and he puts that rhythm into creation. But then, God takes it a step farther with this idea of the Sabbath. And he makes it one of the 10 Commandments.
Remember this? Number four, the fourth commandment is to:
Remember the Sabbath
So, here’s the back story on this. When God rescues his people from Egypt, he enters into to this special covenant relationship with them and he gives them 10 rules to live by. He’s like, “Do these things. This is for your good. This is for human flourishing.” And one of the rules was to remember the Sabbath. To always remember it. To keep it holy, “Because I made it holy on that seventh day when I rested.”
So check this out. The rhythm of the Sabbath was spoken into creation, and built into community. It’s so important that when God was establishing his people he said, “I’m going to command this, because I want it so badly for you. I don’t want you to miss out on it because it’s such a good gift. And I’m going to make it a rhythm of your life because rest is needed.”
We know this is true when it comes to sleep. Like we do it every single night. Our bodies just naturally start to give away and we get tired and we go to sleep. I mean, think about this. Rest is needed to sustain life. If you live to be 90 years old, Lord willing, you will spend 30 of those years sleeping. Some more than others.
You ever talk to somebody and they are like, “Yeah, I’m just not good unless I get a solid 12.”?
“Twelve hours? What are you, a cat? What do you mean you need 12 hours of sleep?”
But this idea of sleep, this cycle that our body naturally goes into to sustain life, the Sabbath is the same for you spiritually. Not just a physical slumber, but a spiritual restoration.
And the people of Israel, they would have seen this good gift—I mean they’re coming out of slavery and they would have gotten this gift that every week you get to take a day off and rest. And all that you have to do is delight in God and worship him.
They would have looked forward to this day as they looked forward to eternity with God. To them, it was heaven on earth. A day without work. A day of feasting on the best foods. A day of worship. A day of making love. It was the best. It was the closest thing to heaven that they had.
And God gave it to them as a gift. It was a glimpse, it was a sneak peak, into what life would be like eternally with God as their Father.
That’s what the Sabbath was created to do, to bring a rhythm of heaven to earth.
But by the time we pick up with it in Luke, chapter 6, it’s become something very different. See, years and years have gone by and they have built so many rules around it that it had lost its beauty and its freeness. The spirit had kind of been choked out of it. It was replaced with countless laws in an effort to protect the Sabbath. But it actually destroyed it.
That’s why it was such a big deal to them that Jesus was just walking through and picking a little bit of grain, rubbing in his hand and eating it. To them, that was work. Like walking through and just picking an apple and taking a bite. They were saying, “Why are you doing that?”
And the Pharisees, they catch a lot of flack for this. Like, why did they mess things up? Why did they… They had this beautiful thing, what happened? But they had good intentions. Like they loved and appreciated and respected all of God’s law so much that they tried to protect it.
So it was called building a fence around the Torah, or God’s law, and they actually took God’s law and they said, “We’re going to build around it to protect it, to keep it sacred and holy so no one messes it up.”
But as they built this fence, and in effort to keep everyone close after they built it, the people were on the other side of the fence.
And it made it really hard for them to come in and appreciate the goodness and the spirit of what God was trying to create with these commandments.
But why did they feel like they had to? Well, it’s because things like rest and work are so big and so vague that they are hard to describe. And our nature is to immediately push the lines of, what is work? And what is rest?
We see this show up all of the time. If you have kids—sorry, most of my examples have kids. I have a lot of them, so that’s what I go off of, alright? But if you’re outside with your kids and they are like, “Hey, can we play with these sticks.” I’m like, “Yeah, you can play with sticks.”
I promise you, two minutes later, crack. And you come running over, “What happened?”
And then they are looking at you like it’s your fault, “You said we could play with the sticks.”
“I didn’t say you could hit him in the face with a stick.”
“But you didn’t say we couldn’t.”
So then what do you do? “Okay, alright. You want to do this? You can’t be close to anyone with a stick. You can’t swing a stick. You can’t hold a stick in your dominant hand, alright? Look at me. You, you can’t carve the stick into a knife. You can’t run with a stick.”
Eventually, no one wants to play with the sticks.
That’s kind of what is going on here. They had built so many rules and laws around it that actually the Jewish people didn’t even want it anymore. They would rather work than enjoy the Sabbath day.
It’s almost like being grounded. Anyone ever get put on punishment as a kid? There is a big difference between being at home alone and doing whatever you want, enjoying all of the goodness of your house, than to have to sit in your room and do nothing, “I don’t want to hear you speak. I don’t want to hear you talk. I don’t want to hear you breathe.” Eventually you’re like, “Can I go to school? I’m looking forward to Monday when I can be with someone and do something.”
That is a lot of what the Jewish people were experiencing. They had lost the freedom; they had lost the beauty of this Sabbath. They would rather work than enjoy this good gift that God had given them. And that’s what you are picking up on, it’s tension. They come to Jesus and they try to check like, “What are you doing? Why are you breaking the law of the Sabbath?”
But look at Jesus’ response:
“Jesus replied, ‘Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.’ And Jesus added, ‘The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.’”
So what is Jesus talking about here? Well he references the story about this guy named David who was an ancient king. And what he is talking about here is during this time in David’s life he’s on the run for his life. And he and his buddies are hiding out and they are starving so they break into God’s house and they take this bread, this sacred bread that was only used for a certain ceremony and they take it and they eat it.
And Jesus is saying, “Do you remember that? Do remember that God didn’t say anything? That even though he took this sacred bread that God didn’t condemn him?”
There’s something different about these ceremonial laws. There’s something different about the Sabbath, because God would never do the same with a moral law.
Like, just because you’re on the run, just because you’re in a hurry, he’d be like, “Oh, it’s okay. You killed a guy? Stop. You were running,” It’s a busy day. Like, “You stole a car? How else were you going to get there? Man, you were running behind?” No, God would never do that. So what is it? It must be something else.
Jesus is saying that the ceremonial laws, even the Sabbath, they were all put there as placeholders. They were signs to point to something else. Something bigger. Something greater.
And then he doesn’t leave them hanging for long, because then he says, “I,” the Son of God, “I am Lord over the Sabbath.” What he’s saying is, “I am the sign that you have been waiting for, this placeholder. You can now take it up because the Lord of rest is here. And if you want true and unending rest from here on out, you’re going to have to go through me to get it.”
There is this huge moment when Jesus says, “I am God and I came to bring rest from the Lord of it over and over again.” Can we celebrate that Jesus is God? And Jesus provides rest on a level that we cannot comprehend unless we go through him. Jesus makes this unbelievable claim that he is God, that he is the Lord of the rest.
And it’s one thing to say it. But, in the very next line that Luke gives us, Jesus proves it. Take a look at this. It says:
“On another Sabbath day,” this is not by coincidence, if you read this story through the gospels of Jesus’ life, my man mostly does things on the Sabbath, he’s being intentional here. He’s showing us something.
“On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely.” Because they were ready to celebrate who Jesus is, that he is the Son of God. No. They watched him closely because, “If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.”
Can you just get a fraction of what they are going through, how hard their hearts have become? Because they are all in the Synagogue together. They are hearing these incredible teachings about Jesus. They even believe he’s able to heal, because they are waiting on him to do it, but for all of the wrong reasons. They are thinking, “If he heals on the Sabbath, we can really get him now.”
Everyone is on the edge of their seat waiting to see what Jesus is going to do. He won’t do it, “I bet you won’t do it. Not with all of us here.” Look what Jesus does:
“But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, ‘Come and stand in front of everyone.’ So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, ‘I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil?’”
He puts this question out there hoping someone will answer, but they can’t, because they know if they say that it’s a day for doing good, then they can’t be upset if he heals this man. He’s got them stuck.
So then he moves on to the next question. He said:
“‘Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?’” Because, he could save this man’s life. You don’t think about it too much, but he has a deformed right hand. Maybe he can’t work. Maybe it really hard for him to work. At the most, with the healing this man’s hand he could place his faith in Jesus and it would save him eternally. There is so much life giving that could happen here. He says, “Is this a day to save life or destroy it?” Silence. And:
“He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man…”
This is a move. Imagine standing in front of the whole room and just looking at them one by one, “Are you going to say it? Are you? Who’s going to speak up?” And then on the other side, “Someone speak up. Someone see how crazy you’re being. Someone have the veil removed so you can see that I’m here to do a really good thing.” But it’s silence. So he says to the man:
“‘Hold out your hand.’ So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!”
Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow. I know they’ve missed it before, but maybe now they get it. I mean, come on. He just healed a man on the Sabbath in the Synagogue. Obviously, he is who he says he is. Now they are going to throw a party because the man just got healed in church. No.
Look at the last line:
“At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.”
And this is not the cute, “What am I going to do with you?” like when your puppy chews up your shoe what am I going to do with you? This is the, “What are we going to do, how are we going to kill this man?” Just think about where they are, how much they missed it. In their effort…
Jesus talks about this all of the time, “In your effort, searching the Scriptures, studying them, building these fences, thinking that that is what will save you, you’re missing the very thing that will.”
And they lost it. It was all happening right in front of them. And you know, they miss out on what the Sabbath is and how good it is and what a gift it is that God has given because of their legalism.
And for us, I don’t think we are missing out on the Sabbath, I don’t think we are missing out on this rhythm because of too many rules.
No, the fences that the Pharisees put up, they’ve long fallen, greenery has grown over them.
But at the same time, without a little bit of structure, without a little bit of that placeholder, we fall into the same place where we are unable to find the rest that God offers us as well.
So what we’re going to focus on now, just in the remaining minutes that we have is how do we get back to that? If this is a really good gift, if it’s something that God spoke into creation, that he gave to his community as a gift, then how can we get it back?
How can we enter into the rest of God? How can we truly be satisfied? How can we get past this feeling of just drowning, where we are just bobbing up and down, waiting for the weekend so we can get a few quick breaths before we’re thrown back into the water?
Because the Sabbath is more than a day. It’s a life of rest. It’s a life of being content. A life of being satisfied.
And some of you might be thinking, “Do we have too? Didn’t you just say that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath? And that there was a placeholder and now he is our rest, so do we really need a day? Do we have to?
And this is actually a big question that came up a lot when the church was beginning to form.
If you look back to Paul, his letters, people would often ask him, “Hey, do we have to keep all of the old Jewish traditions and ceremonies? Do we have to keep the Sabbath?”
And Paul responded, “No. You don’t. Jesus did fulfill all of that, so you don’t have to keep a Sabbath to be in right standing with God.” That’s what that means. Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath.
But I will say this. Do I have to is a horrible question to apply to following Jesus. There are very few things that Jesus commands, “You have to do this.” I mean, he gives us some big ones like, “Hey, love God with everything you’ve got and love people as yourself.” That is a big one. That is something that God says we have to do, everything else we do should be to help that—to help us love God more, to help us love people more.
So what I would say is: do you have to? No. But, would it help?
Would making one day every week dedicated to God and worshiping him, would it help me love God and people more or less? Would it strengthen my faith or weaken my faith? I say if it helps, let’s do it. I’m not above it.
Let’s put something in that could actually help us get through this—not being tired, but actually being settled in spirit. This is something that God wants for us. We don’t have to, but you know, sleep is still a good thing, rest is still a good thing, Sabbath can still bring healing.
You know, this is actually where the first Christians, as this began to come up and they began to talk about it, they actually did a little bit of a shift where the Sabbath used to be from Friday night to Saturday night. They said, “You know what? How about we move it to Sunday?
And let’s move it to Sunday because then we can remember Jesus, because that’s the day Jesus rose from the grave, proving that he is Lord of the Sabbath, Lord over everything. And here’s an idea. Let us gather around on Sunday and let’s invite everyone. Let’s invite our best friends, let’s invite our family, and let’s bring together some good food. Let’s worship God for who he is and celebrate him all day long.”
Do you know what they called that? Church!—2,000 years later we’re still throwing the same party in the name of Jesus, because he is that good. So, do we have to? No, we don’t have to. We get to.
And there are no rules to it, necessarily. There are some best practices and things to consider, big components. And I just want to put a few out there as you maybe think about implementing a Sabbath into your week.
And I’m no expert on this. Actually this past year I’ve been taking it more seriously, trying to carve some time. My wife and I have been having intentional conversations about how we can have a Sabbath.
And the first thing that I want to point out is it is designed to be 24 hours. One 24 hours all together. Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have 24 hours right now.” And maybe, I don’t know, maybe you don’t.
Maybe you’re a student and you have a crazy schedule, maybe you’re just starting out in your career, maybe you have a young family, you’re starting your own business—I don’t know.
But I would say don’t let that stop you from starting. I mean it is designated to be 24 hours and if you break it up, you won’t get the same effects. It’s like sleeping at night for eight hours is different than taking eight one-hour naps, right? You will not feel the same. In the same way, this is what it’s built to do.
But also, at the same time, you wouldn’t not go to sleep tonight because you can’t get a full eight hours. You’re like, “No, I missed my window. I’m going to wait until I can really get some sleep.”
So, maybe for you as you are beginning to create this, “I have six hours that I can give.” Or, “I have 12 hours, half a day that I can start with.” I’m just saying, don’t let that stop you from starting. But if you want this, this is something that you can kind of ease your way into, with the goal of getting to 24 hours.
But here’s a big one. It’s designed to be a full day, and:
The Sabbath is a day of worship, not a day off.
And I think that there’s an important distinction here, because maybe if you do use the word Sabbath, it is interchangeable with a day off, “I’m going to Sabbath. I’m going to get up. I’ll go to church. I’ll run some errands. I’ll finish some emails. I’ll catch up. I’ll get ready for Monday.” And then on your day off, you actually do more work than you do on your day on. That is not a Sabbath.
A Sabbath is a day to worship, but at the same time that doesn’t mean that you have to go around singing all day long in dedication to the Lord, chanting and holding candles and doing all of that stuff.
What it is is a day of worship. And when we worship something all it means is that we ascribe worth to it. And by blocking off a whole day and saying this day is just about you and me growing closer, you and me following more in love, that’s how we worship God.
STOP everything else.
That’s actually what the word means. Sabbath is to stop to cease from working. And to stop from work, both paid and unpaid. But it’s also a day to stop thinking about work, to stop worrying about work—what will happen or what won’t happen. It’s a hard stop from the ordinary so that you can enter into this specific time with God.
It’s a call to stop striving, because Jesus says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit the soul?”
Sabbath is an intentional decision to say, “I could get more work done on this day, but I’m going to stop striving because you are ultimate. I’m going to take a back seat and I’m going to say that a day worshiping you is better than anything I could do on my own. I’m going to rest with you and I’m going to rest on you.”
It’s a day to stop wanting, which is so deeply embedded into our hearts, into our culture—to want the next thing. To want the next house, the next job, the next car, the next pair of shoes, the next toy. It’s a day to stop and to rest and to realize that everything keeps spinning, even when we stop moving.
God is in control, “Even though I don’t have everything that I want, I can make a choice to be satisfied with what I have.”
It’s a time to get our desires back in order. It’s great to have desires. It’s great to want things and to strive for things—but if those desires become ultimate, they will bring you to anything but rest.
Setting aside a full day allows to almost do a trust fall with God, “I could get more work done, I could do more, but I’m going to make a choice to stop and I’m going to trust you. I’m going to take you at your word. This rhythm that you’ve placed into community, that you placed into mankind, I’m going to lean on it.”
And we can see this is where God begins to do his best work. This is what Jesus came to do. It’s a restorative word, not just for deformed hands, but for healing in all of its type, to restore you to creativity, to refill you with wisdom and clarity.
It’s a blessing. Meaning, it’s life giving: prayer, and touch, and kindness, and love. The best thing that we can experience here—those are all found in rest, not in speed. This is a day to say, “I’m going to stop and I’m going to enjoy.” So it’s not a day off, it’s a day to worship.
Here’s the last one:
Sabbath does not mean I’m ready to stop, it means I’m ready to surrender.
What this means is that we can’t just wait until the work ends. You’re not going to luck out on that, alright? It’s not this idea that we can finish our work and then stop. If you’re waiting for that, you will be waiting for forever—there will always be another phone call, another meeting, another project, another spreadsheet, another thing will be waiting.
This is a moment in time to surrender and to say, “God, I’m going to give you the next 24, even though I’ve got a lot of things waiting for me.”
Taking a Sabbath is not trying to cram everything into one less day, but what it does is it makes you really intentional.
And when you get your yes right, when you say that this is what I’m committed to, then it allows you to have a really strong no toward other things. If I start with the most important thing, then it becomes easy to push those other things out of the way. It’s a day of surrender.
So, I want to ask you: what could that look like for you? Once again, no rules. But what would the best 24 hours look like where you could honor God and bring yourself joy.
I just want to give you a few ideas of what this day could look like for you. Shut it down. What if you went into a time when, maybe for the first time in a long time, you shut it down: email, work, everything.
I heard of an idea called a Sabbath box. It means that everyone in your house as you move into this time of Sabbath, a day of worship, you just put everything physically into a box:
the phone, computer, iPad—you lock it all away. Shut it down.
What would it look like for you to wake up without an alarm clock? Some of you just shook a little bit. Like, “I can’t even imagine that. What would that be like? To not have an alarm blasting, but to wake up naturally and to move slowly.”
What would it look like for you to just wake up and just move into a time in the presence of God to pray, to make a nice drink in the morning, a nice hot drink, cup of coffee, glass of tea? Some of you are like, “Well, I really don’t need caffeine to start my day.” Then heat up some water. Sip on some hot water. But open God’s word.
Psalms are great for this. All they are, really, is just remembering. Remember who God is. Remember where he has brought us. Remember what he says. Remember that he is the Lord of rest. Remember that he’s working even when you are not.
And I can sit in that and I can worship, and I can put my worship music on in the background so I can hear it. My worship music kind of fills me, songs that are speaking to me in that moment. And I can go back into it in a time of prayer. That I worship so hard and so much that I get tired and then I take a nap. God is okay with naps. To rest and then to wake up.
And extraverts, relax. This is not just a day of being alone. The Sabbath is communal. It was a day of being together. A day of feasting. A day of the best meals.
So what would it look like to move your favorite meal, your best meal, a meal you’re going to look forward to all week to the Sabbath? And not the microwave. This is the slow cook. This is the chopping the onions and the peppers, putting them in the crock pot, letting them stew and marinate and waiting. Inviting over your best friend or your family having rich conversation, what would that look like? To be completely filled up to honor God by loving people.
What would it look like to have a little space for spontaneity? To not structure it to the point that you can’t do anything. But half of this is, could you slow down that much and spend that much time with God? You will begin to see things differently. You will see your family differently.
What does it look like to have space? When God places that on your heart, “I need to spend some extra time with my spouse.” I’ve got some words that I need to pour out on him. I need to let her know that how loved she is. Or maybe it’s one of my kids or one of my best friends? They need some of my time.
What would it look like for you just to come to this spot, “I need a walk. I need to be outside. I need to see the leaves fall. I need to feel the wind against my face.”? To have the space to be able to do that. To move into this time when you can be completely filled, but you can honor God with all of it.
Here’s the truth. It’s a lot of work to rest, to bring things to a halt. But we can either choose the Sabbath or we can be forced to, because you are not a machine, I am not a machine. Rest will come either through intentional Sabbath, or it will come through burn-out, or sickness—but you’re going to have to sit down. You’re going to have to rest one way or another. With this, we get to appreciate this good gift that God has given us.
And maybe you’re feeling it right now because you’ve never known rest. But as I’m saying, “Take a day off.” You’re immediately thinking, “There is no way that I can do that. If I took a day off, my peers would go flying by me. If I took a day off, my work would not see me the same way. I wouldn’t get that promotion. I can not afford to do what you are saying.”
And I would say that I get it. And I don’t know if taking a day off and dedicating it to the Lord will move you in the direction that you think it will. But I would say this, maybe it doesn’t keep you from something, maybe it saves you from something.
Maybe with this intentional rhythm that you place into your life allows God to do a restorative work and you have more years and better years and more fruitful years. And you get to appreciate the rhythm that he has created. I don’t know.
Anyone can do this. You can carve out a day to stop, even if you’re watching today and you say, “I don’t believe in God,” you can do a Sabbath day. It’s actually becoming a thing. It’s called a secular Sabbath.
There are people in the marketplace, people who are working and are looking around and realizing something is wrong. People are burning out. Depression is high. Suicide is high. People are just falling apart.
So they start looking back to these ancient practices of the Jewish people. And they say, “What about this? What about carving out a full day to rest and to have peace? That sounds pretty good.” And they are applying it, and guess what? It’s working.
But at the same time, you can take a day and fully rest and do all of that and it will help, but there is one thing that you can only get through Jesus. Coming to him as the Lord of the Sabbath, there is one thing that he provides that nothing else can provide, and that’s rest from the most debilitating work that there is. It’s rest from trying to earn your worth through your effort.
You know, people talk about, “I have a money problem.”
“I have greed—I’m just trying to get to something,” that’s not what it is. Money might help you scratch it a little bit, but deep down in there, within our broken souls, this idea that if we would just work a little bit harder, if we were a little bit better, things would be better.
“I know that I carry this weight. This idea that if I just cared more, if I loved more, if I showed up more, if I spoke more, if I was better, then things would be better.” It’s the most debilitating thing that you will ever experience. This voice that never goes away that you are never enough. You can’t shut it off.
But what Jesus provides is soul rest. That inner murmur that is inside of us that is saying, “Keep going. Strive more. You haven’t got it yet. Keep going. You will never earn it unless you wake up early and stay late.” And that line just moves, and moves, and moves.
Jesus says, “No. Enter this rest that I have provided.”
He’s the only one who can answer that deep soul just crying out, because the only one we ever have to prove ourselves to is God, himself.
And now, because of Jesus, when God looks at you, hear this, if you place your faith in Jesus, now when God sees you, he sees you just like on that day of creation, when he created everything and it was perfect and he said it was good and he was satisfied.
Now if we place our faith in Jesus, when he looks at you no matter how bad things are or how much you’ve gone through or what you’re going through, what you’re feeling, what you believe about yourself—if you place your faith in Jesus he looks at you and he says, “
Wow. That is good.” And he is satisfied. We don’t have to want for another thing. God looks at you and says, “It is good.”
And look what Jesus offers:
“Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.’”
Jesus lived this perfect life. The life we couldn’t live. The life that if we never took a Sabbath and lived a million lifetimes, we couldn’t do it. And Jesus came in all of his grace and all of his mercy and he said,
“Rest. Come to me and I will provide a rest that you can’t comprehend. I’m here to remove the placeholders. You can enter into a rest that will start today and go for all of eternity.
That you can appreciate and fall into this rhythm right now, because I’m not only going to speak it into creation, I’m not only going to add it to your community, I’m going to give you a spirit of rest. I’m going to give you my very Spirit so that you can rest on my finished work.” That is what it means to not work, that’s what it means to be settled in spirit. Stop striving.
And if you’re here today and you’re heavy and you want to place your faith in Jesus, you want to enter into this rest, we want to be here for you. And if that’s you, you can text the word Jesus to 87221. Someone from our team will follow-up with you this week.
But what I want to do right now is just enter into a time of prayer. To pray that God would urge us back into this rhythm that he has created and that we could lean on him and find rest in him, stop striving, and that we could begin to implement this rhythm into our lives, and we can find the rest that he has offered to us freely as a gift. Would you pray with me?
God, we thank you so much for today. God, we thank you for a chance to worship you, a chance to find rest, a chance to be fulfilled and satisfied without striving, to be still and to be satisfied, to rest and be satisfied, to not have to do another thing and to be satisfied in your finished work on the cross.
God, take away our want to prove ourselves. To think that if we just work a little bit harder, a little bit more then this voice would go away. But it only goes away through you. Only you provide rest, only you, Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of lords, King of kings. We come to you and ask for your rest, for your rhythm, for the life that you want for us. God, give it to us.
Jesus, we love you so much. And it is in your perfect name that we pray. Amen.
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