A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"
March 4, 2023
The Exalted Christ
Pray that God’s People Would:
The Exalted Christ (vv. 19-23)
Pray for God’s people to know his glory and the exalted power of Christ.
February 25, 2023
SABBATH AND SABBATICAL
“THE ABC’s OF REST”
Hebrews 4:1-11 (NLT)
We conclude today our Sabbath / Sabbatical series. And today, it gets personal . . . for all of us!
Hebrews 4:1-11 (NLT)
1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news - that God has prepared this rest - has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. 4 We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) 5 But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.” 6 So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. 7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95:7-8) 8 Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. 9 So there is a special rest (Sabbath rest) still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
I read recently that two of the top prescribed medications in America are Valium and Tagamet. Valium is a muscle relaxant that helps people deal with stress. Tagamet stops the flow of hydro-chloric acid to ease a churning stomach that may be plagued with ulcers. If pharmaceuticals are any barometer to where our culture is at emotionally, our country may be the most uptight, stressed-out, anxiety-ridden culture on the face of the earth. Why?
Possibly, it’s because we’ve never learned how to REST! And that’s probably because we’ve never understood what it really means to REST. We tend to equate rest with sleeping in . . . or laying a beach somewhere . . . or an afternoon snooze on the couch with the background noise of football on the TV.
But the “rest” that our scripture today describes is very different. We don’t have to sleep our day away to obtain it. Or, we don’t need to drive to the beach, turn on the TV, or even spend any money. This REST is available all day, every day . . . and it’s just a prayer away!
The people of Israel were so close to entering into God’s rest! They literally stood on the banks of the Jordan River, looking over into the Promised Land.
But, it was not that they did not understand what God had promised . . . they just would not believe God. Instead of being filled with faith, they became filled with fear - and they did not enter into the land of rest that God had promised to them.
Just as the land of promise stood right in front of the children of Israel . . . the promise of God’s rest stands right in front of us. But, entering in is not automatic.
Today, let’s look at “The ABC’s of Rest.”
The Availability of Rest (v. 1)
1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
What is this rest that is being offered?
Well, first of all, remember the word “rest” means “to cease, or to stop something.” Applied to God’s Rest, it means no more self-labor . . . as far as salvation is concerned. It means the end of trying to please God by our own stinkin’ efforts. God’s perfect rest is a rest in free grace.
The Canaan / Promised Land rest for Israel is an illustration of the spiritual rest that is available to Christians. This rest is seen in two aspects . . .
First, when we come by faith to Jesus, by we find salvation rest. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said, in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It is the rest of knowing that your sins are forgiven, that the weight of your guilt has been lifted and that you now have a home in heaven. It is the consciousness reality of knowing that you now belong to Christ!
Second, when we yield to Christ and learn to obey him and to submit ourselves completely to him, we enjoy submission rest. This is what Jesus was meant when he said, in, Matthew 11:29-30 (NLV), 29 Follow My teachings and learn from Me. I am gentle and do not have pride. You will have rest for your souls. 30 For My way of carrying a load is easy and My load is not heavy.”
The first is “peace with God” . . .
Romans 5:1 (NLV)
Now that we have been made right with God by putting our trust in Him, we have peace with Him. It is because of what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us.
The second is the “peace of God” . . .
Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
“It is by believing that we enter into rest and it is by obeying God,
by faith and surrendering to his, will that his rest enters us!”
First is the Availability of Rest, then . . .
Second, The Basis of Rest (vs. 2-7)
2 For this good news - that God has prepared this rest - has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. 4 We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) 5 But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.” 6 So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. 7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95:7-8)
There are 2 obligations that we must understand and embrace, to obtain this promised rest:
1) It Requires Faith
Verse 2 tells us that although the good news about God’s rest was preached to Israel, it did not do them any good . . . because they failed to believe it. It’s like those who have not yet to come to real faith in Jesus. They may attend / be associated with a church in some way - but they have never really committed themselves to Christ.
The Apostle Paul defines saving faith this way . . .
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Verses 3-4 of our text today refers to Genesis 2:2 which says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
Did you ever notice this? All the other verses in the Creation Story, in Genesis 2, end with “ . . .and the morning and the evening were the 3rd day . . . the 4th day . . . etc.” The fact that there is no morning and evening statement ending the seventh day suggests that the seventh day, God’s Sabbath, still continues.
God’s rest began with the completion of the cosmos and it continues on and on . . . thus, it is still available to God’s children today!
The words of an old hymn we sang when I was young says this well:
“There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God.”
The second obligation that we must understand and embrace, to obtain this promised rest, is this:
2) It Requires Action (v. 7)
He gives additional information concerning the importance of the timing of obedience when he says in verse 7, “God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Verse 7 points to the truth that God has set a limit on his offer of rest. It will not always be available. BUT, as long as one’s heart is sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying, as long as one can hear God’s call - then it is time to be saved! God’s rest is still available. Only God knows how long that is for each person. Today, right now, is the only day / the only opportunity that we can be sure of!
A truth needs to be recognized here: “Delay hardens the one’s heart, especially when we are fully aware that we have heard the voice of God in our inner soul.” Every shrug of the shoulder and shake of the head that puts off our acting on God’s calling for change (as we talked about last month) - it all says, “I know I should . . . but I don’t care.” Each attempt at outward conformity without inner commitment makes us more and more resistant to change / resting in God.
1) The Availability of Rest,
2) The Basis of Rest, next is . . .
3) The Character of Rest (vs. 8-10)
8 Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. 9 So there is a special rest (Sabbath rest) still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.
Verse 9 it literally says, “. . . there is a special rest (Sabbath rest) still waiting for the people of God.” The word for God’s special rest (sabbatismos) is found nowhere else in the Bible. It is a word that paints a beautiful picture . . . like a farmer who comes in after a hard day and he takes off his dusty shoes and lies down to rest, or a traveler who completes a long journey and finally has a chance to rest. God has his own Sabbath rest for his own true people. But, the rest of God is not a ceasing from activity but rather peace in the midst of our toil. The ability to rest while in the middle of doing life is an indication of a maturing child of God.
REST, then is being at God’s place, living by God’s timing, doing what God has planned . . . depending on God’s strength and God’s resources. The thought here (in v. 10) is that of completeness.
1) The Availability of Rest,
2) The Basis of Rest,
3) The Character of rest, and . . .
4) The Demand of Rest (v. 11)
11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
This verse Clearly calls us to make every effort to enter God’s rest. But, that does NOT mean we need to try harder and harder and get busier and busier dong more and more so that we can somehow EARN our rest! God’s rest comes by simple faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Learning to function from a position of rest is the secret to avoiding burnout in our life and ministry. We are to be, as the Apostle Paul termed it, “co-laborers with Christ.”
Author John Phillips gives a good illustration of what this means . . .
A man is swept out to sea on a homemade raft. Under pressure of wind and wave, it gives every indication of instant destruction. The man on board struggles desperately just to keep the raft afloat. He uses his paddle repeatedly against the pounding waves, but that does nothing to bring him any nearer the shore.
He looks up and sees a ship has come alongside. The crew throws him a line and invites him to come on board. He at once abandoned his own efforts to save himself and accepted the salvation now offered him. He is saved!
He paces on the deck of the huge ship, with solid planking beneath his feet and massive engines driving that vessel on its way. His standing is now secure.
He’s taken to the captain, who says, “Welcome aboard, friend!” After some conversation, the captain continues, “And now, we’d like your help. We’re shorthanded. The cook could sure use some help in the galley. Would you be willing to help?”
Now, this has to do with his state. That is, his salvation is secure. Nobody is going to throw him back overboard, if he refuses to help. But . . . his gratitude is such that he is very willing to help get the necessary work done. Helping out on board has nothing to do with his salvation. He can rest in that even though many tasks may beckon him, now that he is saved.”
So, as a Christian / a child of God, living God’s Word as the authority over your life, are YOU keeping the Sabbath?
I know most of you work, or have worked in places that don’t offer a sabbatical. So, what are you doing (or what do you need to do) in order to keep refreshed and renewed by living in tune with the rhythms of God?
No one, NO ONE, can do “24/7 pace” long-term. It harms the spirit and erodes the soul.
Think about a mini-sabbatical . . . or, at least, a true Sabbath.
• How about carving a day into your calendar just for you and those you love?
• How about taking a snow day . . . even if it has NOT snowed?
• How about taking a walk (when the weather is warmer) along the lake? Or, watching a sunset or a sunrise - on purpose
• How about stilling your mind for a half-hour each day, for prayer and really looking at the reflection of your life - in God’s Word?
• How about really keeping Sabbath: come to church on Saturday night and then devote the next day to your family, to rest, or simply to stillness?
You may not ever enjoy a true sabbatical, but I pray you’ll find alternate ways to gain the benefit. Remember, Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man (us), not man for the Sabbath.” Life will gain deeper meaning, when you live in harmony with God’s rhythm of life!
Well, it’s now just about 30 minutes until my first real sabbatical begins . . . but who’s counting?
PLEASE, pray for me to truly rest, in the Lord . . . and to be still, and refresh in our loving Father God.
I will be praying for you.
February 11, 2023
SABBATH AND SABBATICAL
“The Sabbath Of The Land”
AND FINDING REST!
Faith in God, means faith in his Word. The two cannot be separated. We cannot say, “I have faith in Jesus,” and then say, “I don’t agree with this or that part of the Bible.” The Bible reveals God to us. If we refuse to live and obey his Word, we have a complete disconnect from who he is. That is why the Word of God (the Bible) is so very important.
And that is why, in order to know that we are saved, we absolutely must accept what the Word of God says concerning salvation . . . and sabbath . . . and all things. We continue today our sermon series on the topic of Sabbath / sabbatical, looking to the scriptures - concerning The Sabbath of the Land . . . AND FINDING REST!
Leviticus 25:1-7 (NIV)
1 The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. 3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you - for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
These verses of scripture I just read require trust. God is asking his people, even before they entered the Promised Land, to set aside one year out of every seven years and NOT plant or reap anything at all. That sounds impossible to even consider, doesn’t it?
It would be like God telling any of us that we would work six days and take off the seventh day - every single week! That’s one seventh of every person’s productive life NOT being dedicated to any work at all! Hard to comprehend, huh?
To live like that would require real trust in God.
This makes me think of a story I recently read . . .
A man decided to go for a walk to a store, and decided to take his sweet little niece along. The 7-11 store was only about a quarter of a mile away, so, not too far for a 3 year old to walk. The held hands and began their walk.
They got about two houses from home, and the little girl pointed to the neighbor’s house and asked, “Is that the store?” Her uncle smiled and said, “No honey, the store’s way over that way,” pointing in the direction of where the store was.
They walked a few more houses along the way and again she pointed to a house and asked again, “Is that the store?” Again, the uncle pointed and told her that the store was way over that way. Think about it! It didn’t matter that the little girl didn’t know where the store was. Her uncle knew. And because of his love for her, and his sense of responsibility for her, he was going to make sure that she got there! And, his grip on her had was so much stronger and committed to getting them to the store, he could have just dragged her there. But, he loved her far too much to do that!
God knows where we are, and his love for us is going to get us where he wants us . . . God knows where “the store” is! We just have to trust.
The people of Israel were being asked to just obey the Lord. And they did . . . sometimes.
And sometimes, they failed. Still, God commanded a Sabbath for the land. Let’s unpack the scripture:
1 The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai . . .
These words indicate a new train of thought was now being introduced. This is a separate set of instructions entirely from God. Here, the Lord begins directions on the Sabbath of the seventh year.
Now, this was normal in the O.T. - God talking to Moses. One occasion was when God spoke to him through a burning bush, in Egypt (to lead the Israelites out of slavery there).
He also spoke he spoke to him on a mountain, to give him the Ten Commandments. And God is speaking to Moses here, before he leads the nation of Israel into God’s Promised Land for them. Our scripture continues:
2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them . . .”
The instructions are being given by the one, eternal, Creator God . . . and they are given to God’s beloved, chosen people - Israel. (Now, through Jesus Christ, WE are God’s beloved; we are his chose children!)
2 “ . . . ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you . . .
The words here do not yet apply to the people. The words will come into effect, only at that time they enter into the Promised Land. BUT, these are words of guarantee! The Lord will bring them into the Land, and he has given it to them. The land has been granted to the people of Israel unconditionally, but actually dwelling in it is conditional. Of the adults who were alive at the time God spoke these words, only two of them will actually come into the land. All the others died in the wilderness, because of their disobedience!
2 . . . the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.
The Sabbath (or rest ) every seven years is for the land, just as the weekly Sabbath is for the people. The weekly Sabbath reminded Israel that they were the God’s people, and were to rest in honor of him - trusting in his provision from the week’s productivity. The seventh year Sabbath of the Land reminded the people that God is the owner of the land!
They were to trust in his provision from the land. (This Sabbath rest of the land is first mentioned to the people in Exodus 23:10-11.)
To not cultivate the land for an entire year would have been an incredible leap of faith in trusting the provision of God. This kind of trust is only accomplished through theocracy, not democracy. Theocracy means: God is God, and we are his people, and we trust him as our Sovereign (supreme authority and power).
3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.
The word “sow” here is zara: literally meaning “the sowing of seed.” Zara was also used when speaking of conceiving children - so there is anticipation of “a crop.”
And, a crop is in anticipation of a harvest. A harvest is in anticipation of one’s daily food needs. This cycle of sowing, in order to have grain for bread, was to be practiced for 6 years.
The word “prune” here is zamar. In the words of this verse, there is the directive that work is to be done . . . and it is to be accomplished / done for six years. This is a positive mandate to actively work the land, sowing and reaping, as it produces. The word “crops” here is intended to include anything that the land produces - grain, fruit, or vegetables. The six years were to be a time of productivity and diligence while waiting for a time of change in what was to be done. The people were to work towards their rest.
4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.
The term used here is shabath shabathon, meaning Sabbath of solemn rest. The land was to be left completely at rest every seventh year, just as the people were to be completely at rest every seventh day! No work of any kind was to be conducted, in an agricultural sense, for the entire year. It was, instead . . . a Sabbath to the Lord.
Now get this picture. The entire year was dedicated as a Sabbath to Jehovah God! And at the end of this special year, the law was again read to all of the people - during a celebration called The Feast of Tabernacles.
The words in verse 4 include all cultivation of any kind . . . including fruit trees, vineyards, crops, and etc. NO such work was to be done during this entire seventh-year rest period. (All of this is a foreshadowing of our rest in Christ as believers AND the eternal rest in God’s Kingdom for those who receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.
At first read, this verse may seem confusing. But watch this . . .
“What grows of itself” signifies that which fell to the earth by itself, and then roots and grows by itself. These are produce that were NOT planted originally by people. Any such plants were not to be reaped by the owner of the land. WHY NOT? In essence, the very soil of the earth was not really considered the landowners own property - it is the Lord’s. Thus, the land’s “natural produce” was to be left for all other creation to benefit from!
The idea here is one of trusting the Lord’s Word and accepting that his provision would be sufficient for his creation.
The people were expected to trust the Lord and to not violate his precepts being laid down!
Again, rest means “cessation from labor” - so the intent of these verses: “The land was to be at rest, and no works were to be employed to bring about the produce of the land.” (And, spoiler alert . . . the land would yield naturally apart from human’s efforts!) It is the Lord alone who will plant, water, and give the increase . . . now and in eternity.
6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you - for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you,
What this means is that whatever is produced of itself during the seventh (Sabbath) year was to be food for all the people. This seems contradictory to verse 5 which said, “What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap.” But, what this was saying is that no person was to go out and actively harvest his land, reaping as they would on any regular year, as if the land was his own.
Instead, anyone - land owner or stranger - could use the land without consideration of ownership!
All had rights to the produce which grew of itself - rich or poor, native or stranger. The owner had done nothing to cause the produce to grow, so, the owner did not have the sole right to “reap” it as a harvest.
7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
The “livestock” were animals that are generally tamed by man, and kept by man. The “wild animals” are more specifically referring to the wild animals of the land. Not only was the produce not to be the property of any person, it was also to be left for any animal! No person or beast was to be restricted from gathering or from foraging food from the Sabbath produce. What the Lord provided from the land was meant for all living beings!
Verse 7 ends our study for today, but before we close, consider more one point . . .
When the nation of Israel trusted God and kept the Sabbath year, the Lord certainly kept his promise to provide.
They had plenty to eat, as God had promised, and they were free to do other things at the same time! There were no restrictions on any other activities. If they wanted to take up learning to play chess, or basket weaving or whatever, they could do so. Think about it! In the Sabbath year, there could have been an explosion of technology - as people were freed from the labors of the field and given the chance to think, create, invent, and develop.
What I am saying is that it is the Lord who created us, and it is the Lord who knows what is best for us!
In taking one thing away, God always provides something else to meet our needs. Many of you could share a story from your lives to illustrate this truth!
There will never be a gap, when we trust in his provision. Rather, there will be something even better! It may not seem so at first, but through faithful obedience, each step will show us this . . . ALL THROUGHOUT OUR LIFE. This is true even in our final step. What I mean is, someday God will take away our life itself.
But even in that, he has promised to provide eternal life - which is truly life.
There is NO lacking with God, except the “lackings” which we make . . . when we fail to trust him.
SABBATH REST . . . for people and land.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUSTING GOD.
February 4, 2023
SABBATH AND SABBATICAL
“Taking The Sabbath Seriously”
AND FINDING REST!
Exodus 20:8-11 / Deuteronomy 5:12-15
We begin today a month-long series in our worship sermons - on the topic of Sabbath & Sabbatical. The four part series will address these areas:
1) Understanding better the what and why questions of sabbath & sabbatical.
2) Looking at scriptural teaching concerning sabbath and sabbatical.
3) Explaining my upcoming sabbatical plans.
4) Asking the question: What are you doing in your own life to live in rhythm with God?
Sabbath is a Biblical term that refers to rest . . . in multiple contexts. God instituted sabbath / rest in Genesis, when he had completed his masterful work of Creation. And Jesus even referred to himself as, “Lord of the Sabbath.” (We will talk about all of that in more detail, later.)
The term sabbatical is derived from the word sabbath - and it too is centered around rest. Taking a calculated and extended time away from work / ministry . . . specifically to rest and refresh oneself in a holistic way. (We’ll also talk about that some more, during the February worship messages.)
TRUTH I believe about all of us: Here's something I believe, about all of us: Our spiritual lives are weak because we are physically exhausted. The more we do, the less we are likely to spend time with the Lord, be mindful of loving others, and having anything extra to give away . . . in the name of Jesus.
Running ourselves to death is nothing new to God. He created everything with a precaution in mind, or perhaps an antidote, for exhaustion: Sabbath Rest. Wouldn’t you like to emerge from a Sabbath day refreshed and ready to tackle the world?
When we Christians honestly talk about how they are most often discouraged and defeated in their spiritual lives, there is a common response: we are tired / exhausted. I fully believe that this is a scheme of Satan . . . to keep up running in circles!
This is nothing new. God created us with rest in mind. When he created the world, he was purposeful about resting on the seventh day . . .
Genesis 2:1-3 (NIV)
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
WE are to follow God’s method of working six days and resting one!
How are YOU at following this model? If you are like most of us, you’re pushed to the limits. The problem is that by not resting you are exhausted and you are not going to be the effective Christian you could be.
1. How to take the Sabbath Seriously
Set apart time
The 4th Commandment (of The 10 Commandments) is:
Exodus 20:8 (NIV)
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
“Keeping it holy” literally means that you sanctify your time . . . you set some time apart to be special.
That is, you purposefully make some of your time special. You don’t do the same old things on this one day. It is special!
Why do this? Well, first of all, because it’s a commandment.
This is in the same list where we receive such commandments as Thou Shalt not murder. To God, this commandment is of the same importance as all of the other commands. It is an importANT command! When you fail to obey this, you are disobeying one of the Ten Commandments.
We are to “keep the Sabbath” because it is a priority to God and because God set it as a model for us.
This takes us back to Creation. God modeled that he worked 6 days and then rested on the 7th. Again and again, whenever the Scripture explains to us Sabbath Rest, it always points to how God rested.
Look at the rest of the passage of Exodus 20 and how it explains this:
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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.
2. Some MisconceptionS about SETTING thIS Time Aside
Sabbath Means Going To Church = FALSE!
This isn’t about worshiping on the Sabbath as much as it is about sanctifying the day (setting some time apart to be special). This Commandment isn’t all about church services, this really a separate command about your work ethic. Please notice that the commandment doesn’t talk about going to worship, but rather is commanding us to cease from work. I mean, let’s be honest . . . sometimes church is a great source of stress in itself!
Now, make no mistake about it . . . God’s Word does give plenty of commands for us to be faithful in meeting together for worship. One example is Hebrews 10:24-25. Ever since the resurrection, when we worship it’s on the Lord’s Day. And every worship gathering should be a celebration!
However, SABBATH is a transliteration of a word which means “to cease” . . . not “to worship.”
Be careful here! It’s not that God is against work, it’s that he wants work in a proper perspective. This commandment is about sanctifying your time!
I Can’t Take A Sabbath Rest = FALSE
An objection may be that you can’t set aside the time; that it is impossible for you to do so. Too much to do and not enough time to do it in. “God wouldn’t expect me to stop during our busiest times.”
Even when we are busy, God has that covered . . .
Exodus 34:21 (NIV)
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.”
No matter if you are the boss or an employee . . . all of us are commanded to rest!
I Can’t Do Anything On The Sabbath = FALSE
There’s a lot of misconception when it comes to the Sabbath . . . and they all seem to be about what the rules are: Is it supposed to be Saturday or Sunday? Can I “do stuff” or not? Then, there are my Grandmother’s Sabbath rules. WHAT’S A PERSON TO DO?
God’s Word simply tells us to “not work.” Down through time, people have tried to clarify what constitutes “work” and what doesn’t. And they said if you sew two stiches it’s work, or if you sew two pieces of thread; or if you carry a bundle of wood; or if you start a fire . . . it’s all work. It became ridiculous and by the time that Jesus was alive, the value was lost.
What we need to remember is that God gave us the command to rest on the Sabbath, so that we may be refreshed - not strapped with more rules. Jesus expressed fully that the Sabbath was made for you, and not the other way around.
Mark 2:23-28 (NIV)
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man (Jesus himself) is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
3. What should taking a Sabbath Rest give you? What can you do?
You can be free & refreshed
The Sabbath is symbolic of the Hebrew nation being released from Egyptian slavery - so it’s about liberty not rules.
Deuteronomy 5 explains what Sabbath this:
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (NIV)
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”
Sabbath reflects release from work, freedom, liberty. It brings everyone to the same level: all are free to rest and do what they normally can’t do.
Some of us may just want to take a nap. Others of us, may want to take a long ride on our bike. WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Refreshed! The spirit of the Sabbath is for refreshment for all.
Exodus 23:12 (NIV)
“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.”
Every person should feel refreshed by not being forced to do work, and by doing what is refreshing to them - with thanksgiving in their hearts. God is reminding us that we are clay . . . and that he is the one who sets us free, and that we must be refreshed in his strength.
The bottom line is that Sabbath tells us that we should cease from working and doing things that are normal activities, and it gives us permission to do things that are good for rest and refreshment!
I don’t know if that feels like “permission” for you, but this is one of my hardest challenges. Does anybody else struggle with the notion that you don’t truly take a Sabbath in your life?
I think that “rest” is often a struggle for us. Perhaps “rest” is where we are sometimes most tempted. When Jesus took 40 days of sabbatical in the wilderness, he faced a lot of serious temptations. Guess what? When you or I purposefully rest before God, suddenly we may be tempted too!
But, we MUST remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. God made the Sabbath for you to rest and to be delighted by this gift. You can choose not to rest, but that is a bad choice. That’s like choosing to become an alcoholic.
God takes the Sabbath so seriously that in the Old Testament he once gave the order to kill those who would impede the freedom for people to rest on the Sabbath! (I’d say that’s pretty serious!) He knows the dangers that we face when we refuse to rest. He wants to protect his people from this sin.
God rested and he is asking you and me to do the same - so that he can refresh us! God stopped working so we would get how much we need to rest. That’s like a parent laying down with a child . . . so that the child will take a nap!
PLEASE HEAR ME: Some us here today are notorious for breaking the Sabbath. Or perhaps we honor it with a few actions. But, we don’t have a Sabbath heart . . . that is a heart that understands that when it comes to the ultimate issue of life, being fully forgiven and accepted by God, our only hope is to stop our work, and rest, and trust in his work for us in Jesus. After all, we are not saved by our efforts; we can’t earn our acceptance before God.
Are you leading a life of distraction, exhaustion and stress? You don’t have to! You were NOT created for that. Jesus died on a cross so that your heart could be transformed (changed) totally into his nature. And, he is waiting on you to rest in him today!
If it’s long overdue for you to rest in him, talk to him now in the sacredness of this moment. Confess that you haven’t had honored him in keeping the Sabbath. To break any command is a sin - and Jesus will accept our confession, of any and all sins, and he will cleanse us of unrighteousness.
Ask Jesus, right now, to help you celebrate the freedom of Christ in you . . . and Sabbath Rest.
January 28, 2023
CHOOSE TO CHANGE
“Change or Not”
John 5:1-9 (NIV)
It truly hurts my heart, as a Pastor, when I hear Christians say, “I don’t need to change anything in my life. God loves me just the way I am.” That’s true, he does. But, as Max Lucado has said, “God loves you too much to leave you the way you are. He wants you to be like Jesus.” odayToday, we finish our short sermon series centered on CHANGE.
In week one, we saw how God calls everyone to repentance; that is, we all need to CHANGE the direction of our life.
In week two, we looked a teaching Jesus gave to his disciples - requiring in them a change of attitude concerning the Kingdom of Heaven (childlike dependance and trust in God our heavenly Father).
Last week, we looked at this question . . . What should be changing and how do we affect our transformation . . . as we strive to change and become like Christ?
Today, let’s look at the bottom line reason as to Why Change Does Not Happen.