Well good morning Journey Church, my name is Doug Kenyon and I am what we call a “regular attender” here at Journey Church. If you are new around here a “regular attender” means that you have been here more than once! All kidding aside, if you are new to Journey Church, we want to welcome you and we are glad you are here. Phil Human is our lead teaching pastor on staff and Phil is normally up here “preaching” and he is a gifted teacher. So if this is your first time or two here at Journey and I completely blow this sermon, please come back again and give us another try when Phil is speaking. Regardless of why you’re here this morning we want to welcome you and we want to let you know we are glad you are here.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard a word or a phrase and thought knew what it meant, only to find out later you were completely wrong, you were hearing one thing, but the actual phrase meant something completely different? I think we often call that phenomenon a misconception. Over the years, it has happened to me a LOT with song lyrics. Song lyrics and misconceptions seem to go hand in hand. I swear I thought I hear one thing and think I know what it means only to find out later, I was completely off. I was completely wrong.
Here is a true story:
“Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the smooth sounds of 80’s right here at Journey ChurchI am just messing with ya. The story goes like this: In 2005 or about 12 years ago we took a family vacation up to the Wisconsin Dells. Here is a picture of the girls just to give you an idea of their age, that is my daughter Carli and her cousin Jess. So anyway we are at an indoor water park, and this song was playing on the loud speaker. It is commonly referred to as the piña colada song. Well the kids had just gotten a snack and they come strolling up thinking they are all cool and this part came on,”If you like piña coloda’s and getting caught in the rain,” and Jess was singing out loud. I looked at her and said what did you just say? And she said what? And I said what did you just say? And she said you mean on the song? And I said, “Yes,” and she said “If you like bean enchilada’s and getting caught in the rain.” And said no sweetie they are singing if you like piña colada’s and she looked at me said what is that???? I just shook my head and chuckled and told her it was an adult beverage and she just shrugged, like “whatever” so they started walking away and she kept singing, and she sang the next line, “If you like making gloves at midnight.” And I thought…I am not touching that one!!!!!!!
Sometimes we think we know what something means only later to find out we were completely wrong it meant something entirely different. The big misconception…..
Well, I think today’s sermon topic can also be one of those things that can easily be misconceived. It can be one of those times when we think we know what it means, only to find it means something completely different. Todays’ talk is on the topic of the Sabbath or moreover, the 4th Commandment. Remember the Sabbath, to Keep it Holy. What do you think of when you here the word Sabbath or more importantly when we hear the 4th commandment? Remember the Sabbath, to Keep it Holy. What do you think of when you hear that?
Maybe you think of rules? I mean, it IS one of the 10 commandments isn’t it, part of the “Law of Moses”? There it is number 4 tucked in right alongside “don’t murder someone” and “don’t cheat on your spouse” and “don’t lie” so isn’t it a ‘rule’ then part of the moral law?
Or maybe when you hear the 4th commandment, Remember the Sabbath to Keep it Holy and you think of “don’t work on Sundays,” but then you ask, what about pastors? Don’t they “work on Sundays”? Does that mean they are sinning or breaking the law of God? Or my friend who is a police officer? What a noble profession, protects the community, but we works a goofy schedule and she works on Sundays. Her days off aren’t until Wednesday and Thursday. Is she sinning protecting the community on Sundays?
Or maybe you think of something as simple as a list of don’ts or can’ts on Sundays. I remember when I was a kid growing up in Papillion the Ben Franklin off of 84th street was closed on Sundays and I can’t buy my candy or whatever I wanted. I vaguely remember my Dad talking about not being able to buy booze on Sundays and just seemed like not much was “open” on Sundays couldn’t go and do or buy whatever we wanted like the rest of the week. No so much today by the way.
Well there are a lot of misconceptions about the Sabbath and what it means so Iets dive in and get going. The word Sabbath actually means to cease, to observe or to rest and simple message of the 4th commandment is this. God wants us to be purposeful about taking a day off for some guilt free rest. Take a day off and make it different from the other days of the week!
If you have your bible with you today please open them to Genesis Chapter 2 and if you don’t have your bibles, don’t sweat it, we will put the scriptures up on the screen and if you don’t own a bible or you don’t like the one you have, we give them away for free here at Journey, they are back on the information table, please help yourself.
Our first hint of the Sabbath shows up in the very first book of the bible in Genesis, when God created the world. Only 2 chapters in it says in Genesis chapter 2 verses 1-3
2 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
What an interesting passage, God created the heavens and the earth and then He rested…he worked, then he rested. Right of the bat, we see that taking a day off and resting is built into the very character and nature of God! Twice in this passage it states that God rested or ceased from his work. Not only did God himself model for us that rest is important, I want us to notice a couple of other interesting things about this passage. In verse 3 it says He blessed the 7th day and made it “holy.” Well what does holy mean? Holy is another one of those words that can be easily misconceived or misunderstood. I used to think of the word holy as meaning only “good or righteous” and while the word has a hint or idea of righteousness, the word actually means set apart or different. So God blessed the 7th day and set it apart or declared it different from the other six. I like to think of the idea of 6 + 1 makes a week. 6 days work and take 1, set it apart or make it different from the other six and rest. Another interesting observation from this brief passage of scripture is the 7 day time cycle of life is illustrated from the very beginning, did you catch that? Six days of work and one day, set apart or different from the other six for rest. By the way, the 7 day time cycle that is still used world-wide today! Six days of work and 1 set apart or different from the others.
The idea of the Sabbath shows up again just one chapter later in Exodus 16: 21-30. Since we are doing such a “high fly” here, I want to give us a summary overview because by the time we get to Exodus 16 a LOT has happened already. Many of us would be familiar with the story of Moses rescuing the Israelites from slavery and the hands of Pharaoh. Many of us know the story from the movies where Moses says “let my people go.” Well if you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to mess it up for you, but eventually Pharaoh let’s them go. There, I did it. I told you the end of the movie J When we get to Exodus 16, all of this has already happened and they are on their faith journey to the Promised Land. I mean picture the scene: You have 600,000 people going “that way” day, after day, after day, after day on their journey of faith (sound familiar?), and this is what they were told starting in Exodus 16 verse 23:
23 Moses told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord.
There it is again!!! 1 day of complete rest to cease, stop, rest from the normal grind..make it different from the other six.
And then shortly thereafter we see another well know story where Moses receives the 10 Commandments and here is what the 4th commandment says in what I will call it’s “long form:”
- “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy11 For in six days the Lordmade the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lordblessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
It is interesting that the commandment starts with the word “remember” isn’t it? The opposite of remember is to forget and it has absolutely been my experience that in the hustle and bustle of my own life, way too often I plow through day after day after day after day and often times it is only after complete exhaustion, or what I call “completely out of gas” that I slow down and take a break. In fact, if you asked my wife and my daughter, it becomes pretty clear when I am “out of gas” at home, and the unwritten rule is I am not too pleasant to be around when that happens. The ironic thing about that is I usually have good intentions. My busYness is mostly about good stuff, but the result is the same none the less I end up exhausted and out of gas. Sometimes I just need to break the power of busYness in my life. And then in this passage notice that right after God says “make sure you remember, don’t forget this” he reiterates again the importance of taking 1 day out of 6, making it different. And then finally I love that last sentence, “the Lord blessed the Sabbath,” he not only gives us permission to take a day off, he gives us his 100% money back guarantee that if we will listen and do what he says, we will be blessed, blessed beyond measure.
And we could keep going with scripture references because the Sabbath actually shows up something like 150 more times between the old and the new testaments, but I think we get the point. Clearly taking a day off is not only important to God, but also blessed by God. He told us over and over and over, in the 7 day time cycle of life, don’t forget to make 1 day different, take a day off and rest.
But let’s get real, why do you think God says it is important to take a day off, to rest?
Well, I will start off with the very character of God because He love us….He tells us to take a guilt free day of rest because He loves us and he knows that contrary to popular belief we can’t possibly go, go, go, go, go, go, go without it causing harm to our bodies, our minds and most importantly it harms and damages our souls. He love us. He flat out tells us, gang, please listen to what I am telling you. I know what is best and I love you and in a weeks time frame, I want to take one day and I want you to rest.
Let me ask you a question: Why do you think as parents we have have our youngen’s take a nap? If you’re not from this area a “youngen” is our red neck version of a toddler. If you are from New York like Phil, it is a Yout. A what? A Yout, there is your 90’s movie reference of the sermon! Why do you think we have our Youths take a nap? Is it because we are mean parents? Well, some of you are, but no, we don’t tell them to nap because we are mean, quite the opposite actually. We ask them to slow down and take a nap because we love them and we know better than they do. We know that there is another 8 hours left in the day and if they don’t take a break, they are going to be tired and miserable and whiny and grumpy and quite frankly no fun to be around. We make them take a nap because we love them and we know it is good for them to do it. Everyone involved will be a LOT better off if they will just slow down and rest.
Well God is our heavenly Father and He knows we go hard. He knows we need to rest. He tells us don’t forget to take one day and rest. Rest our minds, rest our emotions, rest our souls. For God’s sake, in the 7 day cycle of like, take one day, make it different and rest from your normal life.
When Phil and I first talked about me getting up here again I asked him what he wanted me to speak on and he replied with whatever has been on your heart or what have you been studying lately and so I said, ok, the Sabbath it is then……and he got this look on his face. I was like you okay? You have gas or something?? He just said, “Wow,that is a tough subject.” So I asked why? And this was his answer: Because out of all of scripture, the Sabbath can very easily be misconceived and become what we call “legalistic,” or simply put, it can become all about the rules. And so I thought about what he said and I thought about my own recent experience with the Sabbath and Phil is exactly right. God put this message on my heart about six months ago now and as I have applied this message to my own life, I want to share some of the things I have learned and will start with what I will call a couple of warnings or cautions. As you consider implementing a Sabbath into your life, you may want to take note of this and interestingly, this is where some of the misconceptions creep in. So Caution Sign 1 is this:
Caution Sign 1: Don’t make this a burden or about a list of do’s and don’ts. The Sabbath is a guilt free invitation from God, its not an obligation and not meant to be a burden. This is not about following a list of do’s and don’ts. Let’s see what Jesus says about my comment. Please take your bibles and turn to Mark, Chapter 27 starting in verse 2. By the way, To put this passage in context, right before this verse the Religious Leaders of the time or the Pharisees as we call them were following Jesus and his disciples around and condemning Jesus and his disciples for “working” on the Sabbath. You know what they were doing? One time they picked a few heads of grain to eat as they were walking along, picture that, you are walking in a field alongside of Jesus and you run your hand across some wheat and pop a couple of kernels in your mouth, and whack some of the bystanders in your life call that work. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders called it work. And so the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about the do’s and the don’ts of the Sabbath and this was his response:
27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Did you catch that not so subtle statement? The Sabbath was given to us to meet our needs, it was never designed for us to attempt to jump through a bunch of hoops to try and make God happy with us. Can you imagine this picture, this is how Jesus invites us into a Sabbath. Jesus, the CEO of our lives, our Commander in Chief calling a business meeting, “Okay, gather around folks, here is the plan, we have a LOT to do, so let’s start by taking a day off!!!” What? I love it.
So Caution 1 is about being legalistic about taking a Sabbath. Let’s not get in “the rules mode” folks. The Sabbath is very personal. What may be rest to you may not be rest for someone else. What may be work for someone, may be rest for you. Caution 1 is all about this game we can play with ourselves about labelling certain things work and labeling certain things rest, and trying to fit them into the rules box. I am telling you from experience, don’t do it. Don’t play that game because it only produces guilt on either side of that coin. Oh no, I didn’t take a nap, so I blew it. I didn’t observe a Sabbath, or oh no, I mowed the yard on my day off, now I am working on the Sabbath and now I feel guilty. Don’t do it. I will give you one more example and then we will move on. I experienced this at home. My wife is NOT a napper. I am. I love me a good nap, and for me, Sunday is a perfect day to do it. It is the day I have currently chosen to “take a Sabbath”….(remember, I am not saying that Sunday is THE day)…..but on Sundays I get a break from my vocation and that is the day I easily set it apart, or make it different than the other six. Well, anyway, early on in this thing I would be purposeful about taking a nap. Like I mentioned, Sundays are perfect, why? Because either golf or Nascar is on TV, and oh man, have you turned golf on volume about 4 and listened to Jim Nantz’s voice. It is almost hypnotic. Well, when I first started to be purposeful about this thing, I would be downstairs with the TV on golf, volume on 4 and just about when I would be ready to doze off I would hear my energizer bunny wife upstairs running the vacuum. Then my mind was off to the races. Oh no, she is going to be mad because she is “being productive” and I am taking a nap. And then I thought why is she vacuuming, she should be resting. And then I felt guilty because I DO have a list 4 miles long of all the stuff I should be doing: I should be mowing or fixing the ‘whatever’ or, or, or…. And honestly, I had to stay away from feeling guilty for taking a nap. And, I am pretty good at it now by the way. Remember, observing some kind of Sabbath in your personal life is an invitation, not an obligation…the Sabbath is personal…..we get to…….we don’t have to.
Okay, Caution #2 is taking a Sabbath day is not about being selfish either. It is not a Doug day for me to focus on old Doug, and turn into a Me Monster? One of my favorite vanity quotes is “I am so sick and tired of talking about me. Why don’t you talk about me for a while?” Isn’t that funny? But I think you get the point, being purposeful about making 1 day different and resting physically, spiritually and emotionally is not about taking a selfish day. Why? Because being selfish destroys our soul, and the purpose of a Sabbath is to restore our soul. The core focus of a Sabbath is to rest, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The focus of taking a Sabbath once a week is to pause, to restore our soul, to restore our energy, to make us the best version of us. Whatever we do on our Sabbath should point us to God and what He is doing not make ourselves the focus of the day. The focus of our Sabbath should be to remind our souls that God is in charge, He leads me, I can trust Him with absolutely everything.
Our 3rd and final caution has to do with pride. I don’t know about you, but I often joke or comment about how busy my life is. How are you doing? Oh, I am busy man. I almost wear it like a badge. I will see an old friend and we talk about getting together but then we both joke about how busy we are and we will definitely have to make it happen sometime soon. The reality is that I create my own business 90% of the time because quite frankly I can’t or don’t say “no” to much of anything. I get myself so wrapped up in so many things that it is very easy for this guy to get to thinking “I don’t have time” to take an entire day out of my week. I mean, do you know how much stuff I do and I am involved in??? God needs me in the game, performing for him, getting it done. Let’s rock and roll! And that is where the caution of pride slips in for me. The reality is folks, I am not that big of a deal and neither are you. Can you believe that??? Can you believe the world will go on without me?? Can you believe that other people are actually cable of mowing the lawn (albeit their lines will not be as straight as mine). Can you believe that my list of projects will eventually get done, I don’t have to compromise the health of my soul to make sure I fix the stupid towel rack in the bathroom. I am not that big of a deal. In fact, I am taking the Sabbath so seriously now I hung this placard (IF A MAN SAYS HE WILL FIX IT) all over our house, just as a reminder). I think that is also why God says to remember, or don’t forget, it almost has the idea of “don’t forget that I am the one in charge here, I am the one who makes things happen. You run out of gas there sparky, I don’t. So rest. I have got this. You are not that big of a deal.
Okay! Enough of the warnings.
So as we think about closing our talk today, let’s talk about answering the question of “what does this look like in my life.” It really has the idea captured so masterfully in 1 Peter 5 in verse 7. Are you a young Mom juggling the insanity of life trying to raise kids, raise a husband, serve all of the people in your life and never seem to have time to take a break? Or maybe you are just out of college and faced with what I hear we now call “adulting” and working 24×7 just to make ends meet and pay off debt. Or how about you single parents out there, trying to fill the role and responsibilities of 2 people. Or maybe you’re like me, running on the treadmill of work and career and you don’t dare look down to see how much time you have left. Take a day and rest from the anxiety of life. Remember that our Heavenly Father is in charge and rest. I would encourage all of us to memorize this short passage of scripture and start with that as the foundation of your Sabbath.
Okay, practical next steps. I think we have to stop and ask ourselves a couple of basic questions somewhat of what I will call a “point in time” inventory or assessment of our current situation.
- Personal Inventory: I mentioned before that I started looking pretty hard at this topic about 6 months ago and I started with exactly this point. I asked myself this question, obviously taking a Sabbath is important to God and it is important for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Am I “remembering” to be purposeful about rest in my 7 day cycle of life? Am I serious about taking 1 day, pointing my heart towards God and making it different from the other six? And I had to answer that question “probably not”. I mean sure, I go to church on most Sundays, so that is different I guess and I might even sleep in a bit on Saturday or Sunday, but when I was completely honest with myself, that was about it. So for me it started with a reality check or a point in time “inventory” if you will, doing a quick assessment of how I am doing in this area of my life. I recommend doing that consistently by the way, I think it is a healthy thing to do. And by the way, when you pause to ask that question, the answer might very well be yes, I am doing a great job actually, thank you very much. We studied this topic in our small group and we had a couple of people that are actually very good at taking a day, spending time with God, restoring their soul, resting their bodies, the whole deal. And if that is you this morning, I commend you. I hope that is you. This message should be affirming to you.
- It may be healthy to leave here and make this sermon a topic of discussion in your families or with your friends of faith. We have to remember to do this because it doesn’t come naturally…we have to be purposeful or the business of life creeps in and takes over. Encourage each other. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box, to share your thoughts and to work together as a family to make this an important part of your life. If we all understand how we are trying to grow spiritually and we are supporting each other and we are discussing it, everyone wins. There is a favorite quote of mine which is rising tides raises all ships, which simply means when you or the people in your life are growing spiritually it affects everyone in a positive way. My wife and I have literally been talking about this for six months now, and to be brutally honest, sometime we do pretty good in this area and sometimes we don’t. But the point is that we talk about it, it is on the radar.
- And then finally, just do it. Start somewhere and do it now. This is where it get’s tricky because I can’t tell you what this looks like for you. The Sabbath is very personal. What may be rest for you may be work for someone else. How and when we take a Sabbath is personal. I mentioned thinking outside of the box, so I am going to share a couple of ideas that my wife and I have tried to introduce into our Sabbath. Both of us do and some are personal to us as individuals.
- One that we both do is sleep until we wake up, and then maybe fall asleep again – as opposed to waking to the alarm and hitting the go button of life right away.
- I nap but Alicia doesn’t like to nap, so she has incorporated more quiet time with no TV, no noise etc. Alicia also reads more on her Sabbath.
- We try and have a nice meal in the context of celebrating God’s goodness to us.
- I take a break from fitness and “eating healthy.” That is a lot of work man.
- Both of us spend a larger portion of the day in prayer and we talk about what God is doing in our lives, and the list goes on and on…
The idea of the Sabbath is to cease, to rest, to worship and even to celebrate what God has done, is doing and what is yet to come. Ask yourself, what are some simple, practical steps I can take to cease, stop, observe and celebrate God’s work in my life and cast all of my cares on Him.
CLOSE: And will close with this: Imagine how it would impact your life if you were blessed by God for taking a Sabbath. What blessings would you enjoy? I know I have experienced a freedom from worry like I have not enjoyed in my 50 years of existence. I have been more joyful and peaceful. For God’s mysterious reasons there is a certain clarity and focus when we Sabbath. Both Alicia and I experience way less stress. My experience has been that it is completely refreshing and energizing and healing. Imagine the impact it would have if we as God’s people would take God’s invitation for guilt free rest, give our bodies, our minds and our souls a break. If we add some balance into our lives and if we will simply take one take a week, make it different and point our hearts towards God, cast our cares on him and enjoy some guilt free rest.