In this sermon unpacks the Biblical principle and command, Sabbath! How do we obey God and fit into His rhythms by allowing ourselves top rest, and what does that look like? Victoria encourages us to make this a priority so we can serve God with endurance and full of the Spirit!
Sermon preached by Victoria Giovanelli on Sunday November 13, 2022.
05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series – Manly Life Church Podcast
- 05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series
- 29/01/23 – The Glory of Christ – Greg Beech
- 22/01/23 – Luke 15:1-8 God's Heart for the Lost – by Lani Daniel
- 15/01/23 – 1 John 4:11 Friendship In Church by Tim Giovanelli
- 08/01/23 – Philipians 3:17-4:4 Stand Firm in 2023 – by Peter Brooks
How good was the anniversary weekend?
I was so overwhelmed looking back on what the Lord has done in our midst
- All the testimonies
- All the provision
- How true is psalm 16:11 You make known to (us) the path of life;
you will fill (us) with joy in your presence (Lord)
- There was so much joy in that place!
- I think we need to celebrate more often
- So shall we do it all again this weekend? Ask staff to stand and give them a hand.
We are diving back into our series on the glorious riches found in Christ Jesus and today I want to teach on the glorious riches of rest found in Christ.
- So get cosy, chill out and soak it in, because the rhythms and promises of God are good.
Now what do you do when you get an invitation to an event that you long to attend?
- Well at first your heart leaps with excitement/or joy
- You check your calendar, make sure you are available and then dedicate that time to the event.
- Get babysitting if you have kids
- You work out what you’re going to wear, spend time getting yourself ready – unless your my husband and you seem to just throw anything on 5min before leaving for the event and somehow look awesome
- Then you show up, you’re present
- You enjoy the moment
What if God sent you an invitation… an invitation to rest?
- Would we clear our calendars?
- Would we ready ourselves for it?
- Would we show up? Be present and enjoy the moment?
I believe in a world where we are so hurried and busy and constantly distracted by all the things, the to-do list, our social media accounts, the need for accomplishment and productivity, that we actually find it really hard to enter into this invitation even though it’s the very thing our souls so desperately need.
Saint Augustine writing at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire said this about God: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Do you know a rhythm of rest was embedded into very universe by God at the very beginning?
So let’s begin by starting there…
Gen 2:1-2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
God rested. God blessed that day and called it holy.
This seventh day is called Sabbath and it appears with this title in the 10 Commandments in Exo 20:8
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.
This doesn’t mean that God was tired and needed a rest. We know that God is omnipotent, literally “all-powerful.” He has all the power in the universe, He never tires, and nothing he does diminishes His power one bit.
This word Sabbath comes to us from the Hebrew word Shabbat. The word literally means “to stop.” The Sabbath is simply a day to stop: stop working, stop worrying, stop doing, stop buying, just stop.
A.J.Swoboda wrote this: (The Sabbath) has largely been forgotten by the church which has uncritically mimicked the rhythms of the industrial and success obsessed West. The result? Our weary, exhausted churches have largely failed to integrate Sabbath into their lives as vital elements of Christian discipleship (ouch). It is not as though we do not love God – we love God deeply. We just do not know how to sit with God anymore.
He continued (if you can handle some more): We have become perhaps the most emotionally exhausted, psychologically overworked, spiritually malnourished people in history.
I think there’s some truth in what he’s saying.
See if we are honest, most of us don’t know how to Sabbath anymore, or even if we should? But God says: Remember the Sabbath day remember to rest. It’s so important he puts it in the 10 commandments.
Maybe you can relate to some of these reasons that Author and Pastor John Mark Comer in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (which I think is one of the most important books of our age – and inspired this sermon) He echoes back to us these excuses…
“Yeah, I’m not really into the Sabbath. I’m an extrovert and I just like to stay busy…”
But God rested.
“Yeah, I get the Sabbath thing, but I work a demanding job that I love, and I just can’t make the time because there is too much to get done…”
“Yeah, but I have two kids at home, and it’s just not really doable right now. Maybe later when…”
If God rested then just maybe rest is beneficial for you to. You see he built a rhythm into the DNA of creation. A tempo, a beat. God worked for six, rested for one.
- When we fight this, (pause) we go against the natural rhythms of a God ordained creation.
The last time a society abandoned the 7-day week was during the revolution in France.
- They switched to a 10-day work week to up productivity.
- The economy crashed, the suicide rate skyrocketed, and productivity? It went down.
In fact, once you work a certain number of hours in a week your productivity plummets. Wanna know what that number is? 50 hours. Ironic: that’s about a six day work week. Could God be speaking to us even through our bodies?
Some of you are probably thinking right about now – but I don’t work 6 days, I have a two day weekend – but what does that weekend look like? How much of it is spent rushing from here to there, catching up on chores, filled to the brim with events – when do you actually stop and cease and be?
Sabbath is a rhythm of rest ordained by God woven into the very fabric of the universe.
So Let’s now dive a little deeper into what Sabbath actually looks like…
There is a second main Hebrew word used for rest in the Bible. Which is nuakh. This means to “dwell” or “settle.” This is not the same as clocking out from an hourly job. This type of rest is like sitting in front of a fire with a loved one.
God introduces the ideas of shabbat and nuakh right around the same time in Scripture. In the creation account, God works for six days and rests, shabbats, then only a few verses later, we read that God creates humans and then immediately “rests them” or “settles them” (nuakh) in the garden with him.
- The structure communicates a link between the concepts of shabbat and nuakh—they are connected. God leads by example as he rests from work (shabbat), and then he dwells (nuakh) with his people.
“God Blessed the 7th day and made it holy.”
How could a day be holy?
- Original audience – their Gods were found in space not time.
- In a temple, on a mountain, in a shrine.
- But this God, our one true creator God could be found in a day
- If you want to go meet with him, you just have to set aside a day of the week to Shabbat, to stop long enough to experience him.
Missy Takano is a missionary with Teach Beyond who puts it like this:
Sabbath rest is an invitation to practice for eternity in God’s presence. It is an act of regular and intentional trust of God’s rule on Earth. We shabbat in order to nuakh. When we practice this purposeful pause, we make room for God to take up residence in our individual lives and communities. And when we do this, we take part in the new creation story, setting the stage for God to make his dwelling place once again on Earth.
- Isn’t that beautiful!
- By ceasing to work we say God I trust you to provide! I trust in your rule and reign over my life and the coming promise of eternal communion with you.
Next: Shabbat can also be translated as “to delight”. It is about stopping and enjoying God, enjoying creation and our lives in this world.
A spirit of restfulness comes from learning to abide, with God, with creation, with each other. It’s about connection.
You don’t need to lock yourself up in your house and not see anyone and just pray all day. Sabbath is much broader than that! Sabbath is life giving when we stop…
- To delight in the world…
- In our lives in it…
- And above all, in God himself.
Now if I haven’t convinced you enough already about the benefits of Sabbath rest let me tell you this…
- A survey was done by a doctor who cited the happiest people on earth.
- Near the top of the list was a group of Christians called 7th day Adventists, who are religious, literally about keeping the Sabbath. The doctor quoted that they lived 10 years longer than the average American.
- If you do the math, and Sabbath every seven days, it adds up to… wait for it… 10 years over a lifetime. Almost exactly.
- If this study is to believed, every day you Sabbath, you’re statistically lengthening your life!
- The Sabbath truly is life giving!
So the Sabbath is about ceasing, abiding and delighting.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this Exodus passage to understand it further:
Sabbath as a command Exo passage
- The sabbath is only one of the 10 commandments with a why behind it. God doesn’t say don’t murder and here’s why it’s bad…
- But for Sabbath, God goes back to the Genesis story, calling his people into the “rhythms of grace”.
- Comer: I find it fascinating that the Sabbath is the only spiritual discipline that makes it into the Ten Commandments. Not church or Bible reading, not even prayer. Sabbath is the anchor discipline of the people of God. So crucial that God lovingly commands us to remember to rest.
- I had a brief but interesting chat with Joey the other week where he said it wasn’t the big encounter moments that keep him strong in his faith as great as they are, it is actually the daily, weekly spiritual disciplines that are the things that enrich and awaken his soul the most. And actually the things he has learnt to treasure the most.
- Spiritual disciplines are a blessing to our lives not a burden.
- A rhythm which brings life to our bodies, minds and souls.
Now, in this passage this day is described as “A Sabbath to the Lord”
- or set apart for the Lord.
- It’s not just a day for rest it’s also a day for worship, yes singing at church but so much more than that.
- Comer asks some great questions when it comes to planning his Sabbath which I found really helpful. He runs the choices of the day’s activities through this question – Is it rest or is it worship? I found that really helpful. Or what could I do today that would fill my soul with joy?
- Sabbath will look very different for a single adult living a high paced life in manly, compared to a parent of 5 kids, or a retiree, or a young adult at uni… it will look different for all of us.
- Can I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to pastor you and guide you in finding the rhythms of rest and worship for you and your family
So, Sabbath is a rhythm of rest ordained by God woven into the very fabric of the universe.
Sabbath is about ceasing, abiding and delighting.
And, the Sabbath is a command, a day for rest and worship, it is holy and life giving.
My experience as a teacher and I am sure many teachers can relate is that we often go hard all term long, we stretch our hours, we work weekends, we mark papers at night and we think I just got to make it to the holidays. And then the holidays arrive and we crash, our bodies go down – we get sick so we don’t actually fully enjoy the holidays or at least the start of them. Rest comes at us as discipline instead of delight.
Most of us suck at getting these daily rhythms of rest, that God knows we need spiritually and physically into our lives – and I am totally a work in progress on this, but I’m getting better at it and it’s amazing!
- And it’s not just Sabbath
- But even starting our days in quiet time, communing with God, working out of rest and spiritual fullness
- Did you know the Jewish day actually starts at sunset – so the first thing they probably do is feast and then sleep – work comes after rest and out of rest.
Walter Brueggeman has this great line: “People who keep sabbath live all seven days differently.”
- Sabbath rest is how you prepare your body and mind for living the rest of the week.
What did Jesus have to say about Sabbath and rest?
- Quite a lot actually.
- But let me hone in on this…
In the Gospel of Matthew, we see a series of connected stories where Jesus is confronted by Israel’s religious leaders and teachers. On one Sabbath day, the leaders object to Jesus’ friends picking corn as they’re walking through a field. In a loving rebuke Jesus says:
Mark 2:27 The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was made FOR MAN. Created and designed by God himself – “for” us. A gift to be enjoyed.
- Jesus was having a go at the religious culture of the time that had put so many rules and burdens on people around the Sabbath practice
- Our culture is the opposite – we aren’t legalistic about Sabbath, our culture doesn’t even acknowledge or recognise it and sadly many Christians don’t either – and we therefore miss the blessings that come with it.
Matthew records these Sabbath controversies immediately after quoting Jesus’ words about rest.
Matt 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
All this talk of rest right before a passage that deals with Sabbath? This is no mistake. The people have become weary and burdened by the heavy weight of observing the Sabbath, following the letter of the law while missing God’s intent behind the command.
Jesus clarifies for them and for us. The people are in need of rest—to stop hard work (shabbat) and be present with God (nuakh). And Jesus is here to usher in the full promise. He is God’s rest, and the people can come to him and find the fullness of rest that God intended.
Matt 12:8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath – The Sabbath points to Jesus, the promised one who would come to mercifully restore the rhythm of all creation.
When we observe the Sabbath, we live as if this restoration has already taken place. We take a break from the broken rhythms of hustle and hardship to set aside a time to honor God, enjoy his presence, and extend rest to the world around us.
The wisdom of these laws remains, and the law of the Sabbath is rich with significance for us today. Sabbath is not just a commandment we are bound to; it’s a promise we’re invited to enjoy.
I want to end with some practical tips on how to maybe approach doing Sabbath.
There is a discipline to the Sabbath that is really hard for a lot of us. It takes intentionality, it won’t just happen.
You see Sabbath is also a day of resistance.
- Against the exhausting rhythms of consumerism, of our need to achieve more, consume more, have more, do more.
- Above all we need to slow down long enough to enjoy life with God, who offers everything that materialism promises but can never deliver on –especially contentment.
You will need capacity to say no to a list of good things so you can say yes to the best thing.
- It is a statement to ourselves that there are other things in life besides producing and consuming. And that there is more to our identity than what we do or what we produce.
So, firstly recognise the battle for your attention:
- Can I suggest you turn off your phone?? For a full 24 hrs. Don’t freak out.
- There is a battle for your attention and plans of the enemy to keep you so distracted that you never take the time to tune into the presence of the creator
- One of those greatest distractions is social media and our phones.
- I’ve started putting my phone in downtime mode for 24 hours over the Sabbath – I can still receive calls and texts but every other app shuts down – some may think that is terrifying, but I find it liberating! It helps me enter rest…
- To begin just set aside a day, it can be Saturday or Sunday – we can debate that later, do what works.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to come and pastor you into his presence
- And then? Rest and worship –– don’t over complicate it or get too religious about it – remember it’s for you and meant to be enjoyed.
- What will help you enjoy God’s presence? – maybe it’s a walk through nature, maybe its reading a book, maybe it’s feasting with the family and sharing what you are grateful for…
- The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight – it should be the best day of the week, the one we look forward to the most. A day when we feast, play, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk and watch creation in its fullness.
- What will stir up wonder, awe, gratitude and communion with God in your heart?
Jesus says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Let’s play our part in responding to that invitation.
Comer: I feel free. Free from the need to do more, get more, be more. Free from the spirit – the evil, demonic spirit – of restlessness that enslaves our society. I feel another spirit, the Holy Spirit, of restful calm settle over my whole person. And I find that my ordinary life is enough.
Sabbath is a rhythm of rest ordained by God woven into the very fabric of the universe.
Sabbath is about ceasing, abiding and delighting.
The Sabbath is a command and an invitation, a day for rest and worship, it is holy and life giving.