I was driving in a car, it was 1977. I had just graduated from college, I’d spent some time sharing Christ, traveling overseas, playing basketball.
Even in college, I was sort of a high energy, I played basketball and baseball and then was in a Bible study. Led a Bible study. Met with a guy one on one and had six different guys that I met with. And then I was an RA to pay my way through the part that my scholarship didn’t take care of.
So, I’d learned to live at a pretty fast pace, enjoyed it, and didn’t seem to be a big problem. And then I began to work and lead a ministry and I would be up early, early in the morning to pray. Memorize some Scripture. Read the Bible. Go off to work. Coach a team. Get back. Do a thing on the campus.
And my life was moving at pretty high RPMs and I was an in-shape guy, at, you know, twenty-five. And I was driving back from Maryland and I’ll never forget this. And I was
getting on an onramp from Maryland back to West Virginia. And I turned my head like this to see if any cars were coming.
And then, no one was coming and so I got on the onramp and then I had one small problem. I couldn’t move my neck back.
And then I noticed that I’m not only driving and not only is my neck locked but I feel very cold. And those of you that have had a real high temperature or your body gets run down.
And I had a sweat but it was very cold sweat. And I was thinking, I’m not sure but I think I’m getting sick, you know? And so I made it the four hours and I went home and I got in bed and I remember sleeping about two hours and waking up in the middle of the night
and I was soaked. And I’m, Boy, wonder what happened? I got up, took a shower, got all the wet stuff off, threw a blanket on the bed, and went back to sleep.
And about two hours later I woke up again and I was drenched. And I’ve got no idea what’s going on except for, it’s hard to take a shower with your head like this.
So, being the very smart, intelligent person, I decided I would wait at least two days to find out if this was anything serious before I go to the doctor. You know?
And I never forget. I remember going into that doctor’s office and he ran a series of tests and starting asking me some questions about my schedule and I told him when I got up and how many hours I put in and what I was doing.
And I was leading a campus ministry and I was teaching full time and I was doing this other thing and he said, “You know, I’ve run all the tests on your body and your body works fine,” he said, “but your body and your immune system is so run down,” he said, “a good common cold could just, I mean, do severe damage.”
And he put me in the hospital for about three days and put an IV in me and then he said, I will release you, I had an uncle that lived in town, if, for two weeks, you’ll just go and lay in bed and get your body back up to snuff.
And, I didn’t think that much about it and so I gradually, you know, got my legs back and found out I had a liver problem. Something wasn’t working quite right. And I remember as a young kid, I had Mono and Hepatitis and they weren’t sure. And so it was, sort of, my Achilles heel that when I got really drained, that would pop up.
Fast forward to 1984. Made it through that. Now I’ve got a wife, got some kids. I’m in Dallas Seminary. I’m finishing up my degree and I’m taking a small church and I gotta make sure, because I’m the only pastor, I gotta get everything done.
And those same symptoms came back. And I was in another doctor’s office. And he just looked me in the eye and he said, “You’re either going to die a very, very young man or you’re going to learn to live differently. And you know what? I don’t know much about your God and I don’t know much about the ministry. But I can tell you, you live at a pace and at a level that’s going to kill you if you don’t change. “And,” he said, “it’s serious.”
And I thought, maybe I should look into this.
The title of this message comes out of my own personal life. It’s a word to the overworked, overwhelmed, and overcommitted. Do you know anybody like that?
That every time you want to get with someone you look at each other’s schedules and you realize, like, next January you have a free week. And some of you, maybe different stages of life, you know, Tuesday night it’s this, Wednesday it’s that. It’s a committee meeting on Thursday night. Your kids are in soccer, softball, ping-pong, ballet, music lessons. And mostly, you know, your meals together as a family are the drive-thru at the McDonald’s or the Burger King.
Overworked, overcommitted, stressed out. I used to live that way. And then I learned there was a gift. There’s a gift from God.
The gift is about every seven days, stopping. Resting. Ceasing. And allowing your mind, your spirit, and your body to be rested, recalibrated, and restored by honoring an enduring principle called the Sabbath. It’s a gift from God.
And about twenty years ago, I started to honor that. And I honor it religiously. And so
I want to talk about what’s it look like for you to practice the enduring principle of the Sabbath so that instead of being overworked, you can work at a pace and in a way that would honor God and restore you.
The Sabbath is a supernatural battery charger that God wants to use every seven days to get your body, your mind, your emotions, and your spirit where it says, “Finished charging, ready to go.”
So let’s look at the text together. Here’s the command. It says, remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. That’s Exodus 20 verse 8.
The word “remember” here, literally means, to vividly bring to one’s recollection or to relive. And we’ll look at that in just in a minute. It’s not just, kind of, remembering some day. It is remember, stop, bring to your mental faculty a sense of vivid restoration of a certain event.
And that event is this day and what it means to them and Israel. And then He says, it is the Sabbath day. And the word for Sabbath means to, to put to an end. It means to cease. It doesn’t mean Saturday.
It came to mean Saturday. But the literal word for Sabbath is stop, desist, rest. Literally it means to be lacking.
Then here’s the explanation. Six days you shall labor and do all your work but on the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, Yahweh, your God. On it you should not do any work, neither you, nor your son or your daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien living within your gates.
So, pretty comprehensive. You, your family, your animals, everything. One out of every seven days, call a royal timeout and stop.
The reason He gives in verse 11. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that’s in them. But He rested on the seventh. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Now you all understand that God did not get tired after six days. It wasn’t like, six days and man, I am just beat. Right? God gives out energy and never loses any energy.
So, what He did is, He’s modeling something for us. Did you notice when you read through Genesis, it was, is the evening and a day and He made it and at the end of the day He said, “It is good.”
When God gets done doing something, He takes a moment and He pauses and then He looks at what He’s made and He reflects on it and He enjoys it.
And after God had created one, two, three, four, five, six days and He made all mankind and the earth, He took a long pause and He Sabbathed. He ceased. And He was modeling something for you, and modeling something for me, that you need to stop. You need to look back. You need to see what’s been accomplished.
Are you ready? You need to enjoy it. You need to savor it. You need to drink it in. Some of us are so future oriented. So task oriented. So about getting things done and getting the strokes and all the stuff that comes from accomplishing, accomplishing, accomplishing, accomplishing.
You know what happens? You never enjoy what God gives you. And you never look back and drink in what has been accomplished. And so God says, for six days, you’re to work. It’s a good thing.
On the seventh day, because I modeled this for you, I want you to learn to live in a way where you don’t just work. But where you look back on your work and you appreciate and enjoy it.
The message of the Sabbath, basically, there’re three primary messages as you study this passage. One, is that your work matters to God. Notice it says, six days you shall labor. God gave you gifts, energy, focus, creativity.
There’s a sense of purpose for your life. Your work matters to God. It’s not like you come to a meeting like this and this is the spiritual part of the week or Sunday morning is the spiritual part of the week.
24/7 is spiritual to God. An offering unto God. We live Romans 12:1 type lives where you offer your body a living and holy sacrifice.
And so, when you’re doing diapers, when you’re babysitting grandkids, when you’re fixing people’s bodies, when you’re drilling and filling teeth, when you’re taking a kid to soccer practice, when you’re taking a plumbing and connecting some plumbing, because that’s what you do for a living…
Or connecting wires or whether you’re in front of a computer screen. When you work and do your work unto the Lord, it is as spiritual as coming to church. It is as spiritual as being a minister of the gospel.
Whatsoever you do, do it heartily. Colossians 3:23. As unto the Lord. Work is holy, your work matters to God. Vocation doesn’t mean job. The word “vocation” means a calling. God has called each one of us to do certain things, according to our gifts, and passions, and his purposes, and he wants us to learn that we work.
And do you notice that work was assigned to us before the fall. You know, we live in a world where, you know, it’s the TGIF mentality where everyone’s trying to get as little work done as possible, to get as much money as possible, to do different stuff later.
I mean, we’ve got a whole world that thinks the world is made for weekends. What, isn’t that a pretty big waste of the majority of your life? This command teaches us, six days, you shall work.
I want to use your life. I want to use you how I made you. Working. Whether it’s at home as a mom with young children. Whether it’s out on the marketplace as a woman. Whether it’s, as a man, leading people, whether it’s doing construction, whether it’s writing software, or programs, or healing people’s body.
You do it, every act, unto the Lord. Your work matters to God.
The second message of the Sabbath is, there’s more to life than labor. He says there’s six days you shall work and on the seventh you need to stop. Life can’t just be viewed through work.
People today prioritize all their world and all their life around work. We make this decision based on work. When we eat or don’t eat, as a family, is because of work. What we do, where we go, what we’re going to do. There’s more to life than work.
Work isn’t enough to sustain you or sustain me. It’s an important part of life but the Sabbath message teaches us, don’t view all of life through the lens of work. Where’s the job? How much money can I make?
People often relocate to, quote, a better job that pays a little more and what they leave is a church family and their best relationships and their kids growing in a good environment because you’ve been trained to think that every time you get a promotion, it’s automatically God’s will.
Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Maybe God has bigger and higher plans than just a promotion. Maybe it’s, like, living a life.
And so, God wants us to know, from this Sabbath principle, that your work matters to God. There’s more to life than labor. And then, finally, your time belongs to God.
I mean, we all know that, okay, all that I am and all that I have, it belongs to God. We teach that we have gifts from God, we’re a steward. Paul said, what do you have that you haven’t received? Answer: nothing.
And so, we’re going to teach, our spiritual gifts belong to God, our money, our resources belong to God. Our homes, our cars, our children. They’re a gift from the Lord.
What this says is, your time isn’t your own. But we act like it is. He’s going to say, out of one hundred and sixty-four, hundred and sixty-eight hours every week, twenty-four of those hours are mine.
Now, I own them all and you are a steward of all of them but twenty-four out of those one sixty-eight, I’ve already marked off, I’ve preset, they’re mine.
And I’m going to tell you, out of every seven days, what to do on twenty-four of those hours. But here’s the amazing thing. It’s a gift.
It’s not about rules and regulations. It’s not about can-dos or can’t dos. He’s going to say, I love you so much, I’m going to set a boundary around that human tendency to go, go, go, go, go.
You know, some of us, how many people make those little lists where you write down all the things you have to do? Go ahead, raise your hand, I do.
And isn’t it really just wonderful? I, in fact, I have a white board over here in my office. I got another white board over here. And I make lists. And you know what I love to do? Just before I left the office, I went and took one of those little markers. Check, check, check.
And you know what? When you check three, it feels better to check four, doesn’t it? And when you check four, it feels better to check five or six? And when you…
But if your life has any complexity at all, you never get done with your list, do you? And once you get done with that list, I have this amazing thing. I get up the next day, and I have a whole new list.
Do you understand that some people, unconsciously, are living from list, to list, to list, with some illusion, someday, someway, things are going to slow down. And someday, someway, you’re really going to do some things that matter.
And someday, someway, you’re really going to dig in and build some of those relationships. And someday, someway, you’re really just going to sit around the table and share hearts as a family.
And someday, someway, you’re going to take that family missions trip and get beyond ourselves. And someday later, I mean, when things really calm down at work, then you’re really going to find your niche in the church and where to serve and how to do it.
And what you know is, the someday, someway never comes. And God says, “I got a solution to that.” You break through this boundary, I’ll give you a “Ingram experience.” I think I’ve caught up on all my Sabbaths.
See, if you don’t take them, he’ll give them to you. I’ve been in bed a few times for not taking Sabbaths. I’ve got, probably, a litany of injuries that I could probably trace back to, you know what? I think God wants me to rest and when I don’t take it, he’s got a way that…
Because He loves me. And He cares for you. And He wants you to know that your time isn’t yours. It’s His. But as the Psalmist said, a’Our times are in His hands and ve wants to do something very special, very special and very good.”
Let’s look now, what’s the meaning of the Sabbath? Let’s look at it for Israel in the Sabbath, Jesus in the Sabbath, and the church in the Sabbath and then I want to get to the application part.
I’ve given you an outline here. As you look at it, it’s obvious I can’t cover all this material. So, what I want to do is highlight it and I’ve given you the passages so that, I pray that, since you’re on, some of you, a little Sabbath vacation, you can, you know, go over to the sweet shop and, you know, maybe get a coke or a cup of coffee, put your feet up, sit in the sun, look up some of these passages and say, “Hmm, wow this is neat.”
Let God speak to you personally.
Israel in the Sabbath. First, the Sabbath was a test for Israel. Second, it was a law. And third, it was a sign.
Let me just highlight these. First of all, it was a test. The first time we hear the word “Sabbath” in terms of its relationship to Israel, is in Exodus 16:21 through 30.
And this was a test of faith. This occurs one week before they get to Mount Sinai. And one week before the get to Mount Sinai, you know, they were whining and having struggles and, you know, there’s nothing to eat.
And God says, here’s what I want you to do. You go out in the morning and there’ll be manna. And just collect enough just for that day. If you collect more, then it won’t be good.
And of course, being the really smart people they were, a lot like, probably, all of us if we were there. Some of the people said, you know what? This is good for today. It tastes pretty good. But what about tomorrow?
See, I don’t know that I can believe God’ll supply tomorrow. So, remember what they did? They got an extra jar. And when they got up the next day, they ate the one jar and what was in the second jar? Anybody remember? Maggots.
See, this was the test of, I am a faithful God. I will take care of you. And then He talked about the Sabbath and said, now here’s what you’re going to do.
On Friday, I want you to take two jars. And they, you know, some of them are thinking, we’ve been down this road before. This can’t work. Because if you take two jars on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…ehhh. But on the Sabbath, He says what? You take two jars.
And then what happens? When the sun goes down on Friday evening, you’ve got this. And when you wake up on the Sabbath, you don’t have to go out and work. It’s there. And what did they find? Both jars were good.
The first mention of the Sabbath and manna is a test of faith so God’s people could learn, He will supply. And that’s why when He gives the law and He says, “Remember the Sabbath.” Bring into vivid recollection.
Their first experience with the Sabbath was what? The manna! What are they to bring into vivid recollection? Literally, the word has the idea, they couldn’t think of this because they didn’t have the technology is, if you could punch a DVD player inside your mind, and relive in your mind what occurred on that first time, when you had to not get more manna this day and take two jars, and watch God supply on the other day.
Is relive the Sabbath because the goal was, they’re going to have to learn, in every situation, God will meet their needs. He’s a faithful God. On the day you work, He meets your needs. And on the day you don’t work, He’ll meet your needs.
And the goal was, trust My word. Trust Me. I’m big. I’m powerful. I can take care of you. And so, every time they were to celebrate the Sabbath, they were to remember this experience.