Central Christian Church
St. Petersburg, Fl 33711
September 19, 2002
Exo 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
Exo 20:10 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
Exo 20:11 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.
Do you remember when things were closed on Sunday? I remember working at Publix in the 60’s. We never worked on Sunday! I can remember how strange it seemed to me when the Skaggs Albertson grocery stores came to Pinellas County and opened on Sunday. Do you remember the advent of the convenience store 7/11 open 7 days a week from 7:00AM until 11:00 PM.
Today you have “all night everything”-prescriptions, groceries, gasoline even Wendy’s and Taco Bell advertise open late.
We as Americans have a need to fill every moment of every day. In my house they turn the TV on in the family room and the bedroom, even if they are working or playing on the computer. “Being Busy” is the way we live. We have an incessant need to keep our bodies and minds in perpetual motion. Solitude makes us uneasy so most of us prefer some type of activity or stimulation to inactivity.
Phil Faust who just graduated from KCC told me of the shock he experienced by the deadening silence of living alone after 4 years of dormitory life. He is trying to get used to the aloneness without interjecting TV or stereo.
At the last class he told us he was getting married-that will do it.
We have this need to fill every waking moment with some type of activity.
When we don’t have a TV, radio or even a book to read, a phone to call somebody on we become tense and restless and we look for some type of movement.
I see solitary joggers and cyclist with Walkmans strapped to their arms. What is wrong with the silence that we cannot tolerate it?
God’s suggestion to us! NO God’s command to us to rest means we are to stop all work and activity and be still, when we don’t we have broken command # 4 and we are out of balance.
Practically, every Friday on my day off unless I am studying for graduate school, I go to the woods. I climb 25’ up a tree and I sit.
I have been known to sit from before sunrise until after sunset.
If I do not go away alone in solitude, I promise you I will be out of balance, there is no let up to my relentless pace. However, when this happens it won’t be too long before Miss Cathi sees that I am out of balance and strongly suggest I go to the woods.
What God is saying to His people in this commandment is that when we fail to have open spaces, solitude, silence and rest from our busy pace of life our lives become unbalanced.
Sooner or later we will face a melt down.
I sit in that tree it is God, creation and me.
No phone, No pager, no TV, no Walkman.
Hunters crack me up, now many of them carry two-way radios so they can talk to their buddy while in the tree. The majority of them cannot stay in a stand for more than 2 hours. They just cannot do it they go stir crazy.
They cannot wait to get back to camp where they can keep themselves busy with a campfire and conversation about what they did not see.
God is telling us let go of your relentless pace. Stan has a fountain and a lake he goes to on vacation. He goes there alone and sits. It makes him balanced. Their have been times in the past year that we have ministered together that he has said to me, “you need to go to the place where you just sit” and I to him at times, “you will react differently after you have been to the lake.”
Quiet time and rest helps us stop the cycle of a fast paced 24/7 lifestyle we live, alone time calms us and allows us to put things into proper perspective.
We live lives that say it is business as usual seven days a week twenty-four hours a day.
God is saying, “there is so much more to life than the way we live it, but if you do not obey this command-you will never find the balance, that leads to a better way.”
It is in the “open spaces” where we discover relationship, feeling, love and affection. It is in the tree that I have time to digest the week, reconsider the purpose and meaning of my life, do some real soul searching and the entire time it is just me and my God.
When is the last time you just sat, someplace away from it all? I do believe it is best to keep this command by going to your private quiet place. It may be at the fountain or the lake, I do not picture too many of you 25’ in a tree. It may be a quiet place in your yard or possibly in your home.
I have a pond in my yard with a deck. When I am stuck at home studying that is where I go to take my break.
Remember this please Jesus said it! The Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath. God knows us, He knows what is the best medicine for us. He is a good God. So many of us feel guilty if we are not doing something.
God made man’s body. He knows how much it can handle. He knew that if they didn’t take time to recharge their batteries, they were going to destroy themselves. The rest that he spoke of though was more than just physical rest. It was emotional rest and spiritual rest. You or I can take a day of the week to cease from our regular work and still not rest. We can have our minds so filled with all the stresses of the week and all the problems that the new week is probably going to hold and receive absolutely no refreshment from a day away from the job.
If we are not taking advantage of a Sabbath day and keeping it (holy) separate from our other days we are out of balance.
Have you ever had tires on your car that were out of balance? What happens if you do not take the time to get the tires balanced? When we do not keep that Sabbath we are like those tires, likely to wear out before they should.
Now this may upset you and I am sorry if it does, but the Sabbath day does not necessarily mea Sunday. Now if Sunday after assembly is the day that you do what I described above, well that is fine.
There is a difference between the Lord’s day and the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is a day of rest, but the day you rest does not matter! The Lord’s day is similar to the Sabbath in that the Christian enters the assembly and the Jew went to the synagogue. But the Sabbath for the Christian is a day to rest from our work and that is why God created it for man.
God is not against work. But He is against work consuming our lives. He is against us escaping into work so that we don’t have to face life. He is against us finding our significance and self-worth in our work. He is against us filling our lives so full of work that we don’t have time for Him or other people. He did not want them or us to think that work was all that there was in life. He told the Israelites that just as He put a limit on the amount of work that He was going to do before He stepped back to evaluate it, so they needed to stop from their work on a regular basis.
Following this command and taking your Sabbath day is a test of our faith. Israel was an agricultural society and for those of you who know farming, know that timing of when you plow, plant and harvest is everything.
So God says this to His people in: Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”
God was testing their faith. Is their faith in their own ability to get that crop in the ground and then harvest it in the fall, or is their faith in God, the one who makes the crop grow in the first place? Do they have enough faith in me that they will rest and rest peacefully without pacing the floor in their mind even as their crops are potentially rotting in the field?
But if you read closely He gives them the promise of a great harvest in: Exo 34:22 "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
There are people in this room who cannot let it go, they cannot leave it at the office.
If they do not do it they believe it just won’t get done.
I want you to know before you leave here tonight that God is serious about your faith. He doesn’t just ask that we rest; He does not just make it an optional suggestion. HE COMMANDS THAT WE REST AND BY LEAVING THE WORK and resting WE SHOW HIM OUR FAITH in Him is real. Too many of us think He is honored by our loyalty to work when we should rest. When we do not take a Sabbath rest we DISOBEY God.
If you want to live like that take your chances, but I call your attention to what He said the penalty for breaking this command is. Is is death (Exodus 31:15). That puts this command right up there with “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The first test case came along not long after the commandments were given. One day, a Jewish man went out into the wilderness to gather some sticks for a fire. Nothing wrong with that except for the fact that he did it on the Sabbath. He was spotted doing it, and was confined to quarters until Moses could consult God about it. God said that the man was to die, and so the community took him out and stoned him (Numbers 15:30-36).
You see the world does not have the mind of God. The devil has taught the world to say “oh its ok to work and not rest it is an honorable thing and oh by the way if you do it for the church we will tell you it is sacrificial and godly.”
I hope tonight you know what God thinks. I hope now you will slow down, rest and catch your breath. That you will begin to become aware of the rhythms of life and that you can be a part of God’s symphony if you will give yourself the permission to live His way.
If you take the Sabbath rest you will find shalom-peace- even though others may judge you wrongly. If you do not the penalty is death and like that unbalanced tire you will wear out and die way before your time.
Stroman John A. “Getting it all Together”
Talton Chris “Working 24/7”