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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 2

Here is another lie I believed for far too long…

A consistent day off for soul care would make me seem weak, lazy, and unmotivated to the world around me.

How ignorant I was!?

Although hard work is scriptural and honorable, it should not control my life. When I believe the lie of a day off will not fix my problems and it ultimately makes me weak, lazy and, unmotivated – I’m basically taking God and His promises completely out of the equation. I think we can all agree this is not a smart move. Jesus makes this wonderful statement in Mark 2:27

“The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath.”

Rest and rhythm that turn our hearts towards the goodness of our Heavenly Father was made for our sake. Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling. When Jesus says this in Mark 2 He is revealing how the Sabbath is not for rules, rituals, and regulations. Instead it holds a powerful spiritual component that ultimately bears fruit outwardly.

Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling.

Over the last few years I have thought a lot about why God would wire us with the need for sabbath. Although I do believe many of God’s designs and ways are a mystery to us (see Isaiah 55:8-9), I came across seven miracles Jesus did on the sabbath and I believe they paint an amazing picture of God’s purpose behind it.

Check these out:

1.) Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law on the Sabbath [Mark 1:29-34]

2.) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath [Mark 3:1-6]

3.) Jesus heals a man born blind on the Sabbath [John 9:1-12]

4.) Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath [Luke 13:10-17]

5.) Jesus heals a man with dropsy on the Sabbath [Luke 14:1-6]

6.) Jesus drives out an evil spirit on the Sabbath [Mark 1:21-28]

7.) Jesus heals the lame man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath [John 5:1-18]

So why does all this matter?

It shows us what Jesus is doing on the sabbath as a picture of what He will do in our life through our sabbath.

He brings wholeness to our family (1.), restores what was no longer useful (2.) , restores vision (3.), gives strength for steps (4.), heals our inward working (5.), frees us (6.) and makes things happen that we have been waiting years for (7.). Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? When in reality it is a part of the good news of the Kingdom of God!

Sabbath may seem only a day off, a pause in your schedule, a few moments to yourself where you look around and reflect on the goodness of God…but it is so much more!

It is as spiritual as praying, fasting, worshipping, giving and serving. It is God’s designed way to fill you up with His goodness and grace to take on the journey He has planned for you long ago!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10 [NLT]

Categories
choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 1

Confession time! Here is a lie I believed for far too long…

A day off is not going to fix my problems.

As with most good lies there is a small kernel of truth in it but it is far from actual truth.

What does stopping to refuel, finding the rhythm of refueling, and caring for your soul (all of which we have been calling Sabbath) does is creates a peace within you. Think about that for a minute. What could complete abandonment to true peace do for your weary soul?

If you go to Mark 4 we find Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of a great storm.

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:37-39 [NLT]

Take a moment to picture this in your mind. What stands out to me is even the professional fisherman in the group disciples were scared for their life which means this storm was quite something! Then they cry out with the question so many of us ask when we are in our own storm “..do you even care?”

I do a deeper dive in this when I preached about my own battles of suicide and burnout and you can find that here.

But notice what Jesus does here because it is so important when we find ourselves asking those hard questions. He gets up and stops the storm to the point it’s noted “..there was a great calm”.

How did Jesus do this?! Maybe because He is the son of God? Maybe because He is showing us how God deals with storms? Or could it be Jesus had authority over the storm because what was within Him did not match what was around Him.

Be sure to know this: storms WILL happen. But when we have the peace of God WITHIN us we can deal with everything AROUND us.

Notice in verse 38 where Jesus was when the storm was raging “..sleeping in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.” He was in a posture of rest. Can you see now, the significance of resting, refueling, and finding rhythms? It’s what Jesus did and as a result He had a peace that surpassed all understanding!

So what about you? How is your sabbath rhythm going?

Sabbath is so much more than just time off from the hurry and the mundane in our lives. It is a rhythm of rest that God our creator put into place (see Genesis 2:1-3). In part two of this I will show you the seven spiritual aspects of sabbath. Until then I encourage you to take a step this week in finding your rhythm of refueling. You will not regret it!

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.

Categories
Handling Life's Problems

We All Need a Little Rest

When’s the last time you really rested?

They were travelling from town to town, preaching, casting out demons, and healing the sick. It was a busy time of ministry for Jesus and his disciples. Crowds followed them wherever they went. There were so many people with so many needs that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to stop and eat (Mark 6:31).

In the midst of preaching repentance, performing miracles, and changing lives, Jesus said something that sounded crazy. Something unexpected. Instead of doubling down on the work, Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

Even Jesus recognized the need for rest. In our super-busy lives, we may find ourselves exhausted, depleted, empty, and grumpy. To be effective, we need time to rest and refuel.

When is the last time we really rested? Do we feel guilty when we take time to rest and recharge? Do we think someone is going to outdo us if we disengage from work?

Rest refreshes our energy and increases our ability to stick with our work over the long haul. It also makes space to bond with our family. Stepping away from work to relax with family is one of the most important things we do in life. It creates an essential bond and breathes life into our relationships.

Remember, after God created the earth and everything in it, he took the seventh day off to rest. In the Old Testament, God instituted the Sabbath, one day each week when everyone took a break from their work. While we are no longer under Old Testament law, the principle of rest remains.

Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11:28). Psalm 23:2 says, “He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love…”

In the midst of our many tasks, appointments, assignments, and obligations, when we are worn out and exhausted, let us hear the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calling us to rest a while with him. He promises to show us how to relax, how to experience quietness and peace. He will show us the way to recover our joy and our lives.

Resting isn’t being lazy. It isn’t wasted time. Resting is an investment in our physical health, our mental health, and our spiritual health. So, take a deep breath. Slow down. Think about the goodness of God. Enjoy your family. You’ll feel better. You’ll do your tasks better. And you’ll please God.

Heavenly Father, give me wisdom to value rest. Help me recognize when I’m exhausted and when I need some quiet time to unwind and rest. Give me strength to work hard and help me balance hard work with seasons of rest. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
grace

A Word for the Weary

“So, no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.” (Ephesians 2:9)

Remember the story of Sleeping Beauty? She was cursed and put into a deep sleep. What did she do to wake herself up? Trick question: She did nothing! Eventually she was awakened by, “true love’s kiss,” given to her by a prince. The curse wasn’t lifted through Sleeping Beauty’s effort, but because of what the prince did for her.

Just like Sleeping Beauty, we were under a curse, spiritually lifeless, with no ability to save ourselves. And, like Sleeping Beauty, we were rescued by the action of someone else. But, unlike Sleeping Beauty, we often fall into the sticky trap of striving—trying to earn God’s favor by good deeds and hard work.

Striving wearies us but gets us nowhere. We can never do enough to earn our salvation, but we can wear ourselves out trying to do more and more, hoping for approval from people or from God.

Why do we keep striving to earn the grace we have been given as a gift? Here are three possible reasons:

  1. We compare ourselves to others. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4). Since everyone’s journey is unique, with unique experiences, gifting, and calling, comparison is impossible. The Bible tells us to focus on our own lives and take pride in our journey, instead of comparing ourselves to someone else.
  • We won approval in the past by performance. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Many people “earned” love and approval by obeying rules and performing well. We may be tempted to apply that attitude to our relationship with God. But God loves us just as much when we when we mess up big time as he does when we execute flawlessly.
  • It’s easier to keep a set of rules than to do what God really wants from us. “I give you a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Y’all, loving people is hard! Following a set of rules is sometimes easier than loving everybody unconditionally, the way God loves us. But God is more interested in our hearts than our actions. He wants to change us from the inside out.

God has given us permission to cease striving. We can stop trying to earn his favor, and we don’t have to impress one another or try to make ourselves feel more valuable because of our accomplishments.

Jesus promised his yoke would be easy and his burden light. He said we would find refreshment and rest in him. If you’re feeling the weight of earning God’s love, set that burden down. Rest confidently in his love. You don’t have to earn your place at his table. Your seat is already reserved. Take a deep breath…and relax!

Dear God, I know my salvation is a gift from your heart of mercy and grace. When I think I’m not doing enough to please you, remind me of your unconditional love. I don’t have to earn your love. Regardless of how well I think I’m doing or how badly I think I have messed up, you just keep on loving me. Help me rest in your love. In Jesus’s name, amen.