Finding Time to Be in Sabbath
How is your recall? When I was a kid there was a cartoon on the TV that had a sheep dog named Sam and a wolf named Ralph (Yes they had TV when I was a kid). The cartoon started with Sam and Ralph checking in at work and punching their time cards and it ended the same way but in between Sam normally got the best of Ralph who kept trying to steal sheep. They were friendly checking in and checking out. The gist was they were portraying workers of that day. The problem is many people don’t follow an 8 hour work day and 5 days a week anymore. Some rest all the time and others don’t ever rest.
Do you remember the old “Blue Laws?” When I was a kid not many businesses were open on Sundays. Those that were opened were looked down upon. And there were no activities on Wednesday accept church activities.
The “Blue Laws” were eventually challenged in court and done away with. Now, you can shop, eat out, conduct business, enjoy recreation or just about anything else on Sundays – in a big city things never shut down.
Burnout has become a major problem in America. Maybe you are here this morning feeling burned out. You had to bring home work from the office just to stay caught up. You know you’ll be as tired when you go into work tomorrow morning, as you were when you came home Friday evening. One of the greatest stress marks on families today is being overworked.
God has a lot to say about work and rest. It’s interesting that today’s Commandment is the longest of all the Ten Commandments. Let’s look at this command. The first part of the message deals with understanding the Sabbath; the second part with utilizing the Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV)
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
I. WHAT IS THE SABBATH?
A. The word “Sabbath” comes from the Hebrew word “shabbat,” meaning to cease or desist. The primary meaning is the termination of all work on a particular day. In the Commandment there are two reminders given:
1. God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh (v.11).
2. Israel ought to remember that they lived in slavery in Egypt where they did not get a day off or allowed to have a day to worship (Duet.5:15). Sabbath is to be a day of REST and WORSHIP.
B. When is it?
1. Muslims observe it on Friday.
2. The Jews’ Sabbath begins Friday at dusk and goes through Saturday ending at dusk.
3. Sunday? That’s when Christians observe it. Since we are Christians let’s deal with observing Sabbath on Sunday.
C. Why Sunday? There is no place in the Bible where God commands us to worship on Sundays. So, why Sunday?
1. In the New Testament, followers of Christ began to meet and worship on Sundays.
2. This was in honor of the resurrection of Jesus which took place on a Sunday. It is referred to in the New Testament as “The Lord’s Day.” The issue should not be which day it is:
Colossians 2:16-17 (NIV) 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Romans 14:5-6 (NIV) 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
D. Why does God want us to have a Sabbath Day? Basically, it is for two reasons: to rest and to worship. God meant it for our own good. Jesus said: Mark 2:27 (NIV) Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
1. Observing the Sabbath Day as God intended will accomplish two things for us:
a. It will draw us closer to God.
b. Every 7 days you need to get recharged physically, emotionally and spiritually.
II. THE BIBLE SAYS TO REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY AND KEEP IT HOLY. HOW DO YOU KEEP IT HOLY? BY USING IT THE WAY GOD INTENDED. THERE ARE THREE WAYS THAT GOD WANTS US TO USE THE SABBATH:
A. To Rest Our Body - God set the example for us in creation. God wasn’t tired after 6 days of creating but we are not God and we do get tired so He showed us how to rest one day a week.
1. Catch this The Supreme Court of the U.S. has ruled that it’s OK for businesses to be closed on Sundays not for religious reasons but to give employees a day of rest. Gee wonder where that idea came from.
2. One commentator I read said “If you are burning the candle at both ends you are not as bright as you think.”
3. You can be consumed by your career. Why do people push themselves so hard? More money, more recognition, more sense of fulfillment, achievement, whatever. But our bodies are not built for non-stop work.
4. In Psalm 23 it says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” We need to rest.
5. Leonardo Da Vinci – “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment.”
6. Yet some people feel guilty when they relax. Jesus relaxed. He took a day off every week. Are you better than Jesus? Not taking a day off is a sign of immaturity. It’s like a kid that doesn’t want to go to bed. God wants you to rest every seven days.
a. God even built a Sabbath for the land. Every 7 years they were not to plant crops in the field. They were to give the land a rest for one year (Lev.25:2-5). We call that good crop management but God called it rest.
B. The Sabbath Is Designed To Recharge My Emotions - Resting your body is not enough. God wants you to also use the Sabbath to recharge your emotions. There are three things that should be given attention to on a Sunday for recharging your emotions:
1. Include Time For Quietness - “He leads me beside still (quiet) waters, He restores my soul.” (Ps 23). The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
a. Mark 6:31 (NIV) Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
b. Natives in the jungles have a better concept of rest than many of us do. They will say, “We are going to rest today so that our souls can catch up with our bodies.” Have you ever felt that way, that you are running so hard, speeding through life that you are drained emotionally? We all need quietness.
2. Secondly, Include Time For Family. A part of Sabbath should be family time. In America it used to be the two main things that happened on Sundays were church and family.
a. I think we need to have time set aside for family – it is important. Try playing games, go on a picnic, and create time together.
b. When I was a kid most Sunday afternoon in the summer were for picnics with a nucleus of friends my parents had – they would play cards on Saturday night and decide what they were bringing on Sunday.
c. I can remember checking out a new state park in the winter and using a large pile of snow for a table.
3. Include Time For Fellowship. We draw strength from one another. Part of Sunday worship is being together in the house of the Lord with fellow believers. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
a. I thought about postponing the Souper Bowl Lunch because of a number of people were going to be away and the weather might not be so good but that would cheat us out of a time of fellowship
C. To Refocus My Spirit - Sundays are primarily a time to worship. It is the first thing you ought to do on Sundays. Many people take Sundays off and turn it into a fun day; they go to the lake or hiking, or skiing with the family. But, church and worship is not included.
1. Sure there are times we are away from home on a Sunday but we ought to remember to worship, rest and have fellowship.
2. Worship needs to be a regular part of your schedule, for sure once every 7 days.
When you buy a new car you get an owner’s manual. The manual has a maintenance schedule included. If you don’t pay attention to maintain the car regularly sooner or later it’s going to break down. So will we if we don’t follow the owner’s manual called the Bible.
Let me close with a couple thoughts concerning Sabbathing.
Sunday is an important time in our lives and we should not give that up
I also think that with the types of schedules we have we need to look for opportunities other than Sunday that are times of Sabbathing. Simple example of what I mean is on Wednesday the choir meets and then those that lead our worship music prepare for Sunday morning. For me that hour and half is a time of Sabbathing:
It is a time of fellowship and worship.
It is time for refocusing on God and others – it renews my spirit.
It is restful for me
Let’s not limit ourselves to Sunday – let’s look for ways to Sabbath during the week as well.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.