Sermon:  A Christian Sabbath

Summary:  Part of ordering our inner life involves the principle of Sabbath, which 
involves taking time to reflect on the meaning of our work as God did at the end 
of his creation.  This will help us to properly interpret our work in light of God's 
work so we will have the right perspective and motivation.

Know:  It is important for us to take time to refresh both our bodies and our souls.  
God modeled this for us as Christians in the creation and in his instructions to 
Israel to observe a regular Sabbath.

Feel:  The emptiness of work without love

Do:  Reflect on the difference between mere leisure and true spiritual rest.  Identify 
challenges in implementing times of rest in your life, and commit to a plan for 
periodic rest that would aid in interpreting your work in light of God's work.

Text:  Ex 31:12-17; Dt 5:12-15; Mt 11:28-30

Scripture Reading:  Gal 3:24

1.  Timothy watched his Dad bring home loads of paper from work
	a.  Dad didn't spend any time with the family because of so much work
	b.  Timothy's mother explained, "Daddy has to bring home his papers from 
	      work because he has so much to do he can't finish it all there
	c.  Timothy thought about it, and asked, "Can't they put Daddy in a slower 
	d.  How true.  Sometimes we need to be in a "slower group"
		- Bible has something to say about being in a slower group
2.  The Old Testament is a School Master or Tutor (Gal 3:24)
	a.  Teaches us important lessons about ourselves and God
	b.  We learn about the nature of sin through the sacrifices
	c.  We learn something about holiness through kosher laws
	d.  What about the Sabbath?
		- Word, "shabbath" means to "cease" or "rest"
		- What do we learn from this?
3.  Let's take a look at the Sabbath
	a.  Ex 16:22-36 - God instructs Israel on the first Sabbath
		-  v.29 - The Lord has "given" you the Sabbath
		- It was a gift, designed to be a blessing
		- It was designed to be a blessing
	b.  Ex 20:8 - Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
		- It was a special day set apart
		- No person, slave, visitor, or animal was to work
	c.  Ex 23:10-12; Lev 25 - Even the land was to have a Sabbath year
	d.  Lev 25 - Following every 7th Sabbath year was a special Sabbath year
		- Called the year of Jubilee
		- All slaves go free, and debts forgiven, foreclosed property reverts
4.  Why and what do we learn?
	a.  God doesn't give a consistent reason each time he commanded it
	b.  But looking at the reasons helps us to learn some important lessons

I.  Time to interpret our work
	A.  Time to stop, ponder and look over what you have done
		1.  If you work non-stop, you will rarely do this
		2.  You wind up going through the motions
		3.  ILL:  Like a hamster on a wheel - No meaning, just running
		4.  God said to stop what you are doing on a special day
	B.  (Gen 1:31-2:3) - The original "Shabbat"
		1.  God reflected on his work and saw that it was good
		2.  Was God so tired that he needed to rest?  
			a.  I don't think so.  He "ceased"
			b.  Like a builder, carpenter, architect, sculptor, painter,
			c.  On completion, you like to stand back and look at it
			d.  Maybe his "rest" was like that 
		3.  Since God does this himself, he wants to same for us
			a.  We not robots that are on autopilot
			b.  We are not hamsters that mindlessly run on a wheel
			c.  God made us to think, probe, learn, etc.
		4.  To do this, we need to stop what we are doing sometimes
	C.  This is not the same thing as leisure
		1.  We are an amusement /leisure oriented society
			a.  We have million dollar parks devoted to this
			b.  There is a leisure industry
			c.  Leisure can be very enjoyable
			d.  But a leisure day is not the same as a Sabbath day
		2.  Sabbath is a spiritual rest as well as a physical rest
		3.  Leisure is to the soul what candy is to the body
			a.  It is enjoyable, but not really nourishing
			b.  Irony - There is more leisure in USA AND more stress
		4.  Sabbath nourishes and refreshes both body and soul
	D.  We need to take time out to interpret our work
		1.  There are several questions we can ask?
			a.  Why did I do what I did?  Did I do it well?
			b.  Who was it all for?  
			c.  What did I hope to gain?  What did I gain?
			d.  How did it honor God?
		2.  Questions like these will help keep proper perspective

II.  Time to reflect on the meaning of freedom
	A.  (Dt 5:12-15) - God gives some instruction on the Sabbath
		1.  What were they to remember?
			a.  They used to be slaves in Egypt
			b.  But God redeemed them from bondage
			c.  God freed them from slavery
		2.  God wanted his people to interpret their work in light of his own
		3.  God's work in this case was freedom
	B.  Consider the conditions under which they Egyptians worked in Egypt
		1.  Cruel taskmasters forced them to do hard labor
		2.  They had a quota to meet, and if didn't meet it, were beaten
		3.  They were not starving; 
			a.  In the wilderness, they remembered the good food in 
			b.  Archaeological evidence in slave cities in Egypt suggests 
			     that they had good food to eat
		4.  But they were not happy with their jobs
	C.  ILL:  I read a poll
		1.  How many people today are satisfied and content with their job?
			a.  Only 43% of Americans are satisfied
			b.  Only 17% of Japanese are satisfied
		2.  There is a strong work ethic among the Japanese
			a.  They are high performers, High Tech
			b.  Lot of cool stuff comes from Japan
			c.  Yet they are not happy.  Why?
		3.  Perhaps, they in bondage to a cruel taskmaster - themselves
			a.  Maybe they try to derive meaning from material things
				- The size of their paycheck
				- The amount of work they do
				- The position at their company
			b.  They become slaves to these things
			c.  Some beat THEMSELVES up if they don't progress
	D.  This can happen even to Christians
		1.  Some Christians became slaves to themselves
		2.  A periodic true Sabbath helps to reflect on the meaning of work
		3.  Our work needs to be interpreted in light of God's work
			a.  God freed us from bondage
			b.  We are freed from bondage so we can be joined to God 

III.  (Ex 31:12-17) It is time to strengthen our relationship with God
	A.  God began the command with "I am the LORD who sanctifies you."
		1.  Sanctified/set them apart them as his treasured possession 
			- Ex 19:5-6
		2.  Sabbath was a time to reflect on their freedom
		3  God was "refreshed" on the 7th day in his time of reflection
		4.  Sabbath is a time for us to refresh, renew, and recommit 
	B.  (Mt 11:28-30) - Reflect on the purpose work and the nature of rest
		1.  Jesus offers "rest" - A well known passage
		2.  Then why does Jesus tell us to take his yoke and burden?
			a.  Jesus wants us to give our burden to him
			b.  He invites us to take his burden.  What is it?
		3.  Contrast:  Man's Burden v.s. His Burden
			a.  Man's Burden - Trying to measure up
				- Self worth attached to my work
				- If I do enough, maybe I can measure up
				- Problem - Never quite measure up
			b.  His burden - Grace
				- My self worth attached to his work
				- Freed me from burden of measuring up
				- Free to serve for no other motivation than love
		4.  Yes, his yoke is easy and his burden is light!
	C.  ILL:  Brother Lawrence a good example
		1.  Originally a soldier, then a cook in a monastery 400 years ago
			a.  A simple person in a simple job
			b.  For years he engaged in many prescribed practices
				- Had a sense of his own sinfulness
				- Even though he discharged his duties faithfully
				- It took him 10 years, but he finally began to 
				   understand the nature of his relationship with God
				- Peace, joy, and love flowed out of everything he did
			c.  No one remembers anyone else in the monastery
			d.  But they remember the one who cooked their meals
		2.  People came from all over to seek his guidance
			a.  Never wrote a book, was just a simple cook
			b.  But a series of conversations and letters of his preserved 
			     by Joseph de Beaufort in - Practice of the Presence of 
			c.  Brother Lawrence eventually came to understand the 
			     nature of his relationship with God
		3.  Brother Lawrence said, "We ought not to be weary of doing little 
		     things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the 
		     work, but the love with which it is performed."
		4.  Result, he found joy and fulfillment in everything he did
			a.  His motivation was simply to love God
			b.  Whether it was cleaning dirty dishes or cleaning the floor
	D.  Maybe this is part of the way to be "refreshed" in Sabbath
		1.  He gives us the grace to work for no other reason than love
		2.  That is the right motivation for work
			a.  We can be called rather than driven
			b.  We can order our time appropriately
			c.  We can engage in the pursuit of wisdom/knowledge for 
			     the love of God
			d.  We can engage in Spiritual Disciplines as a joy 
		3.  Both our body AND soul can be refreshed
		4.  It can be a time for spiritual renewal and refocus

1.  We still have an ultimate rest awaiting us with God in Heaven.  Are you ready?
2.  Do you ever feel like you are on a hamster wheel?
	a.  Maybe you feel like the throttle is all the way open
	b.  Maybe you feel as though you are in a "dead-end" job
3.  Take it from little Timothy - Maybe you need to be in a "slower group"
	a.  Perhaps you need is to incorporate some Sabbath time into your life
	b.  Remember it is not the same as leisure

Small Group Notes:  A Christian Sabbath

Summary:  Part of ordering our inner life involves the principle of Sabbath, which involves 
taking time to reflect on the meaning of our work as God did at the end of his creation.  This 
will help us to properly interpret our work in light of God's work so we will have the right 
perspective and motivation.
- When have you felt the most exhausted?  The most refreshed?

Explore:  Gen 1:31-2:3; Ex 31:12-17; Dt 5:12-15; Mt 11:28-30

1.  Although God did not always explicitly state what was supposed to happen on a Sabbath, 
what appears to be some purposes from the passages concerning the Sabbath?

2.  The text says that God had "given" his people the Sabbath.  In what ways was it a gift?  
What were some potential ways it might have been abused, misused, or misunderstood?

3.  There is more said about the Sabbath than the day of atonement, and the instruction in 
the 10 commandments in Dt 5 concerning the Sabbath is longer than the other commands.  
Why would God's people need such an emphatic instruction about Sabbath?

4.  Jesus offered "rest" at the same time he offers a "yoke" and a "burden."  How would a proper 
understanding of our relationship with him recharacterize our attitudes, motivations, and 
aspirations toward work?  How is this related to "rest?"


5.  What do you see as the difference between leisure and spiritual rest?

6.  In what ways would setting aside times of rest be beneficial for both your body and your 
inner self?  How would it affect your outer self?

7.  What challenges do you see in attempting to implement periods of "Sabbath" in your life?

Plan:  Commit to a regular time of spiritual rest in which you reflect on the meaning of your work, 
how it honors God, how it teaches you about God.  Reflect on questions such as - Why did I do 
the work I did?"  In what ways might God have been pleased?  What did I hope to gain?  What 
did I actually get?