Sabbath


Genesis 2:1-3


Titus 3:3 says:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:3 ESV)


This verse describes the condition of humanity. Most of us do not like to be described as foolish, led astray and slaves. However, our society reflects the facts of our foolishness and slavery. Our world also reflects the malice, envy and hatred of which this verse speaks. 


Our world is rapidly changing. Technology is one evidence of rapid change. Cell phones, televisions and computers grow in capacity, speed and function with every new model. However, this growth in technology has not relieved us of our foolishness and has only increased our slavery to various passions and pleasures. We cannot solve our problems. Conditions seem to go from bad to worse.


But there is hope! Titus 3:4-5 says:
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:4-5 NKJV)


In His kindness, God saved us. He has saved us from our foolishness and slavery. Notice here in these verses that it says this salvation is accomplished by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. 


There is a theological definition of regeneration, but let’s just consider the common definition of regeneration:
the action or process of regenerating or being regenerated, in particular the formation of new animal or plant tissue. (Google)


And, let’s do the same for renewal. The common definition of renewal is:
the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken. (Google)


If we have been saved, if we have been renewed, then why do we find ourselves still trapped by foolishness and slavery to passions. Why aren’t we living lives of renewal and peace. Jesus said:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)


The world lays heavy burdens on us - more than we can carry. 


Concerns about money stress us out. Concerns about children, education, jobs and the future weigh us down. 


Luke gives us an account from the ministry of Jesus. In Luke 10, Luke tells us Jesus was traveling and large crowds were following him. When Jesus entered a certain village, a woman named Martha invited Him into her home. She worked hard at her preparations, but her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Finally, tired of doing all the work herself, Martha went to Jesus and said, “Master, tell my sister to help me with the work.”


Jesus replied:
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. (Luke 10:41 ESV)


Many of us are like Martha. We are anxious and troubled about many things.


One of the results of sin in our world is life sapping stress and anxiety. Jesus said:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)


Without the rest that Jesus is talking about, we all labor and are heavy laden. Laden means heavily loaded or weighed down. Jesus is promising to deliver us from the crushing burdens of our lives. Part of our salvation, part of our renewal is delivery from these crushing burdens. As children of God, we have rest, restoration and refreshing available to us. Hebrews tells us:
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, (Hebrews 4:9 ESV)


I am doing a study on rest and renewal, and I invite you to join me on this journey. I am calling it “Refresh.” When I see words like regeneration and renewal, which are part of our salvation, I think of times of refreshing. Just as Peter preached:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20 NIV)


This is what we need - times of refreshing!


According to Google, to refresh means to “give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate.” Don’t you want new strength and energy?


The results of our repentance are our sins being wiped out and times of refreshing from the Lord.


When you are weary, when you are tired and worn out, the first thing you need is rest. The best example of this is sleep. Our bodies require sleep. Missing just one night of sleep has physical effects equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent, which is above the legal limit for driving.


Rest is so important that God put it in His law that we are to rest one day out of seven. When God gave Israel the laws by which they were to function, He put taking one day off in seven on the same level as lying or murdering. Rest is that important. Rest is so important that God included it in the national laws of Israel.


Refreshing starts with rest.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, (Hebrews 4:9 ESV)


The Bible begins by teaching us about rest. Genesis 2:1-3 says:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV)


Do you think that God got tired?


I hardly think so!


God did this as an example for us to set up the pattern. God could have created any type of universe He wanted, and He created this one, and rest is an essential part of it.


The people in the New Testament known as Pharisees are examples of the perfect practice of religion. They had rules to help them keep from breaking the rules. For example, to put up boundaries around the Sabbath, they added extra rules. Such as, they said a Jew could travel 2,000 cubits from one's house on the Sabbath without breaking the Law. This limit was set by the rabbis because of a statement found in Joshua 3:4 that the people were to follow the ark at this distance during their march in the wilderness. When these Pharisees confronted Jesus about doing something that they considered to be against their Sabbath rules, Jesus said:
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27 ESV)


In this confrontation with religious rule keepers, Jesus teaches an important concept about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was established by God for our benefit. If one examines the Ten Commandments, he/she will find that all of them are for our benefit and protection.


God knew that sin and greed would drive men to ignore the need for rest and refreshing so He built it in to His law. 


I am not saying that if you lack a day of rest in your life you are sinning. What I am saying is that if this world was not broken by sin, everyone would enjoy one day in seven as a day of refreshing. 


For your health, the health of your family and the productiveness of your life, to be all that you were meant to be, you must learn to put into practice the principle of Sabbath in your life. 


The rest part of it is simple. We all need to have one day in seven that is a change of pace day. This is not a burden of service you must do for the Lord. It is something you must do for your own sake. Make time to rest. I called this a change of pace day, because a Sabbath rest is not doing nothing, it is rather taking a break from the toil that consumes our life the other 6 days of the week. 


Another key concept of Sabbath is acknowledging the Lord.


There are those who view attending church as a service they do for the Lord. The idea is that going to church is a good deed and counts for some kind of brownie points with God. 


Nothing could be farther from the truth.


Church is designed to be a time of refreshing. We are renewed when we worship the Lord, fellowship with each other and cast our burdens on the Lord. Refreshing! Isn’t it? 


The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. A Sabbath rest is taking a break from the toil that consumes our lives, and it is also acknowledging that the world and my life is not going to fall apart if I take a day off. This includes acknowledging that God cares for me. 1 Peter 5:7 says:
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)


This is what acknowledging God does for us. It gives us rest from our heavy burdens. Jesus taught saying:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:25-33 NLT)


This sermon fits the idea behind Sabbath. We can rest in the gracious hands of a loving Father. Consider this question from Jesus: “Why do you have so little faith?” 


The end of chapter 3 of Hebrews talks about the children of Israel who left Egypt with Moses. That whole generation did not enter into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:19 and 4:1 say:
So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. 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. (Hebrews 3:19-4:1 NLT)


The children of Israel failed to enter the rest God promised because of unbelief, and it is unbelief that will keep us from the rest God has for us.

The Sabbath is not a burden to be carried. The Sabbath is a blessing to be entered into. Take a new view of the Sabbath and immerse yourself in the joy of being refreshed!

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