Summary: God has given us a wonderful gift in the Sabbath rest – it is the pause that refreshes. God wants us to keep it holy, rest from work, and do something fun.
THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES: A FRESH LOOK AT THE SABBATH
INTRO TO TOPIC:
• Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Stressed out?
• If you answered yes to any of those questions, then today’s message is for you.
• Liza and I just returned from a week long sabbatical retreat at Genesee in California.
• Today’s message is birthed out of my experience on this retreat.
“Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).
“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. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28-30, The Message Bible).
“Tragically, precious little in this hurried and hassled age promotes such intimacy. We have become a body of people who look more like a herd of cattle in a stampede than a flock of God beside green pastures and still waters.” (Charles Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty).
PERSONAL TESTIMONY– 17 YEARS BUSY DOING THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY:
• When we were at Bible Fellowship in Surrey, BC, I was: Youth Pastor, Christian Education directory, elementary school chapel speaker at Regent Christian Academy, substitute teacher for many elementary and high school classes (Bible, math, science, you name it!), I taught two classes every year at Pacific Life Bible College, and if that wasn’t enough, in our last year there, Liza and I pioneered the Revolution Master’s Commission.
• I can’t tell you how many time in my Christian life the Lord convicted me through the story of Mary and Martha. “Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me." Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part.” (Luke 10:39-42).
• I would get so busy doing things for the Lord; I would neglect my personal relationship with the Lord. When Liza and I accepted the call to come pastor the church here in Beausejour three years ago, we thought things would slow down.
• I still work six days a week – but now I am leading the adult congregation, preaching, teaching, preparing sermons, studying, writing, leading a home group, running a Christian club in our high school, doing chapels at East Gate Lodge, visitation, marriage counseling, crisis counseling, elders meetings, council meetings, fall outreach, more!
• When people saw how busy I was, my mantra became: "There’s no rest for the righteous!"
• I’ve found myself in a hurry, missing or forgetting things, and not realizing why.
• Two times over the past couple of years, Foursquare Care (they care for our Canadian pastors) invited Liza and I to attend a sabbatical retreat (that they would pay for). Our response: we were too busy! When they asked us this last time, we said yes. I am so glad that we did! I didn’t realize how much we needed this retreat until we got there!
OUR SABBATH RETREAT:
• FIRST MORNING: I went out to the Elijah room on the second floor of the prayer barn for some alone time with Jesus. I climbed the spiral staircase to the quaint upper room, and decided before jumping in and reading a spiritual book or studying the Bible that the first thing I needed to do was get alone with the Lord in prayer. For about half an hour, I wept before the Lord, repenting of my busyness and neglect of my prayer life, praying through the Lord’s Prayer, and then David’s penitent prayer in Psalm 51.
• READING: “Setting apart an entire day – one out of seven – for feasting and resting, and worship and play, is a gift and not a burden. And neglecting the gift too long will make your soul, like soil never left fallow, hard and dry and spent… The root idea of Sabbath is… that all living things thrive only by an ample measure of stillness.” (Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God).
• “God gave us the Sabbath to protect us from overload. He designed it as a day to restore us…” (Steve & Mary Farrar, Overcoming Overload).