How to NOT have Rest |06.09.24| True Rest pt.2
Drew Williams   -  

Ex 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15

Pastor Drew Williams


The first car I owned was a 1999 gray Saturn. My gramma had helped me buy it, and I thought I was the coolest guy around. I had that car all the way through college, and it was good to me. It carted me and my friends all over California, Arizona, Oregon a couple times. It took us to the beach, and to late night fast food meetups.


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It was good to me, but I wasn’t always good to it. I usually drove too fast, and I usually waited too long to get an oil change. And I definitely did donuts in an empty parking lot once, or twice.


And I kind of had a bad habit of driving when I was tired. Late nights, early mornings. And sometimes opening your windows to feel the wind on your face wasn’t enough. Sometimes, blasting loud music wasn’t enough to keep me alert.


Sometimes, I would nod off and get woken up by the rumble strip on the side of the highway as I veered a little. And my heart would be racing and that would be enough to get me to where I was going safely.


And then one day after college, I was working construction and had a 6am call time. It was summer, and I was driving into the sunrise, and I was tired. My eyes were droopy enough as it was, and the sun was shining RIGHT into my eyes, so I had the visor pulled down.


And I didn’t see the light in the intersection turn from green to yellow to red. So by the time my slow reflexes caught on, the enormous Ford truck had already pulled out right in front of me and we slammed into each other. His car was lifted, so my bumper went under, and the hood of my car got peeled back like the top of a can of sardines, and my windshield shattered.


The truck didn’t have a scratch on it, but I was lucky to walk away with my life that morning.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes over 90,000 driving accidents every year, and over 800 people die from drowsy driving related accidents.


One study I found said that driving with only 5 hours of sleep is the same as driving with a 0.05 BAC, which is BARELY legal, and definitely like driving pretty buzzed.


The reason it’s so dangerous to drive drowsy, is because your cognitive state is impaired, your reaction time is much slower, and your awareness is almost non-existent.


But we’re NOT actually talking about how a lack of rest can ruin your driving today. We’re talking about how a lack of rest can ruin your LIFE.


Because how many of us are driving our lives around while being extremely spread thin, exhausted, stressed, and worn out? How many of us aren’t able to pay attention to what is in front of us in life because we can barely keep up? How many of us have veered off the road in our lives into dangerous territory all because of a lack of margin and too much stress?


When you’re driving a car, veering off the road can end up causing damage to your car, or injuring yourself. But when you veer off the path in your LIFE, it looks like damaging your relationship with your kids or your spouse because you blow up on them.


Or it looks like getting into trouble with debt because you use the credit card to cover up the emptiness you feel. Or it looks like diving headlong into an addiction, gambling, an affair, because you don’t have the strength to stick with the path.


When I walked away from my mangled car that morning, I knew it was totalled. It wasn’t worth what it would cost to fix it. So I had to start shopping for a different car.


But we can’t do that with our life. We can’t just shop around for a new life. We only have one. And when we follow the OWNER’S MANUAL, and take proper care of our lives, and live with the same habits and behaviors of Jesus, it not only protects us from veering off the road, it lets us experience life the way it was meant to be lived.


Last week, we started talking about True Rest, and how following the spiritual habit of Sabbath can help us be transformed to be more like Jesus in every area of our lives. We talked about how Sabbath isn’t about rules, it’s about worship. And it’s a gift from God FOR us. It’s a gift of grace, not a race for points.


Today, we’re going to continue our conversation and we’re going to look at some practical do’s and don’ts when it comes to receiving the gift of Sabbath, and building it into our weekly lives as a habit.


Because if we can get into the habit of practicing Sabbath the way God is showing us, it is guaranteed to be used by God to transform us to be more loving, more patient, more kind, more forgiving, more content, more peaceful. Don’t we all want that?



Open your Bibles with me to Exodus 20, which can be found on p??? Of the OT in the black, seat-back Bibles. This is where God gave his people, the Israelites, the Ten Commandments. Because he had just rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and now he was telling them how to live with HIM in charge.


In Egypt, they were slaves. They served Pharoah and the Egyptian gods. They lived and died under that oppressive rule. And whenever an Egyptian “god” demanded a new temple or whenever a pharoah demanded a new monument, they had to go break their backs to build it.


But now they had been rescued. They weren’t slaves any more. They were God’s people. His children. He wanted them to serve HIM now, not Pharaoh anymore.


But they didn’t know what he was like. Would HE make them work all day? Would he want them to build monuments for him? Would he demand that they sacrifice themselves to make him happy?


You see, slaves don’t get a break. But children aren’t slaves.


So God gives them the Ten Commandments as a starting point for helping them learn what he’s like, and how they get to live now. The first three commandments are all about God and how they are to act towards him. The last six commandments are all about how they are to act towards each other.


And right in the middle, the fourth commandment that connects the two groups is about Sabbath. Let’s read:


[Exodus 20:8-11]


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Maybe this was already familiar to you. Maybe you grew up memorizing this and the other commandments in a confirmation class. But let’s walk through it.


“Remember the Sabbath day / make a remembrance of the Sabbath day. Hallow it. Keep it holy.”


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The rest of the week is for your labor, your work. That’s when you till the ground, that’s when you serve in your role, your trade, your business, your handiwork. That’s when you join in with what God has prepared for you.


But the seventh day? That’s a sabbath to the Lord. We said last week that the Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabbat, and it means to stop – to cease. The seventh day is a day of ceasing OUR work so that we can enter into God’s presence, God’s time. So that we can worship him, receive from him, and be changed by him in the process.


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And notice the extreme lengths the commandment goes into to make it as clear as possible. No work means not for you, and not for anyone under you. Don’t make your kids work, don’t make your employees work, don’t make your pack animals work. Don’t even make the foreigners who aren’t under Jewish customs do work.




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Because of how God created everything. He created all the stuff and the first people in the first 6 days, and on the 7th day he created REST. And he set it apart as holy. Sacred. That day has a special purpose.


The first 6 days are when you join Jesus in his work, and you labor, and you get to create and pursue and collect and make a living. But the 7th day is when you join God in a sacred space of TRUST. Trusting that he is able to take care of you, even though you’re not out there hustling. Trusting that he is able to heal you, and give you purpose and meaning, even when you’re not out there “proving yourself.”


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Sabbath is a gift from God FOR us. Amen? Amen.


What, did that not give you everything you need to know for how to practice Sabbath? I see.


And I understand, because most people aren’t asking whether Sabbath is a commandment or not. Most people are asking if it’s something that will make their life better. And once you’ve been convinced that practicing the habit of Sabbath can actually be an incredibly powerful tool that God uses in our lives, you still have questions about HOW to practice Sabbath.


Does it count as Sabbath if I go to church, but then run errands after? What if I have to work a shift on Sunday? Does it count as sabbath if we go to the movies? What about yardwork?


Do I have to take a whole day? What about two half days?


How do I take a sabbath when I have young kids, and they need me…

All. The. Time?!


Maybe you have questions like that? Yeah, me too. And the Israelites had questions too after trying it out for 40 years in the wilderness before they got to the Promised Land.


So right before they go in to the promised land, Moses gathers all the people again and God gives them the Ten Commandments AGAIN. They need the reminder again on who God is, how they are to act towards him, and how they are to act towards each other. And almost the entire list is exactly the same as the first time, EXCEPT for the instructions on Sabbath.


[Deuteronomy 5:12-15]


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Did you see the difference? It starts pretty much the same: “Observe the Sabbath day / protect / guard the sabbath day by keeping it holy.”


And then it’s the same idea about doing your work in 6 days, because the 7th day is special. You don’t do work, and don’t make anyone under do any work either, so that THEY can rest.




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BECAUSE you were SLAVES. But God rescued you. THEREFORE…rest.


Remember back when you didn’t have a choice? You were slaves to the work put upon you? You had to do what you were told in order to survive? In order to eat? In order to live?


That’s not true of you anymore. You’ve been set free. So don’t re-enslave yourself!


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When God set everything up, he created rest as a sacred space for humanity to not only get healing, but also to get reminded of how God provides for them and cares for them. Entering into the space of sabbath rest is a place of worship, and worship transforms us to be more like the one we are worshiping.


But for some reason, we believe the lie that we’ve got to take care of ourselves. We believe the lie that we’ve got to hustle, otherwise the opportunities will pass us by. We believe the lie that we don’t have enough time to get it all done. We believe the lie that it’s all up to us.


And so God continually invites us into sabbath rest because he’s showing us that we are choosing SLAVERY if we don’t accept. We are enslaving ourselves to our work, to our effort, to our ability to provide for ourselves. And he loves us too much to let us stay there.


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Because Sabbath is about freedom. Sabbath sets you free.


We’re not told to obey the command to sabbath because God cares about the rules and wants to force us into his style for life. Sabbath is about freedom. It’s a tool that God uses to help us BE with him so that he can transform us to BECOME more like Jesus.


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Following God’s design for Sabbath breaks us FREE from the scarcity mindset and anxiety of thinking we need to provide for ourselves.


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It breaks us free from the competition of keeping up and measuring up with others. Whether we think we need to have a nice car like someone else, or a nice house like someone else, or a nice vacation like someone else. Or even if we’re comparing how our kids and their achievements measure up with another family. Whether we focus on how our reputation matches up. Whether we focus on outside things to satisfy our longings and desires.


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Sabbath sets us free from that. And it breaks us free from the idolatry of busyness and the idolatry of work as a way of creating meaning and purpose for ourselves.


These are big issues for us because they steal life from us. They weigh heavily upon our lives. They exhaust us so that we are in danger of driving our lives off the road.


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The scarcity mindset is so dangerous, because when we start to think we are lacking in some way, we start to stress because we think WE need to work harder to provide.


The competition and comparing mindset is dangerous, because when someone else “wins”, we start to feel less-than, or unloved, or less valuable as a person. We feel discontent in our lives, and we start searching for stuff and things to fill that hole.


The idolatry of work and busyness is dangerous, because what happens when we lose a job or retire? If your meaning and purpose in life is based on what you do, or the position you hold, you lose that identity. And without that identity, we are “nothing” now.


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But Sabbath sets you free by inviting you into a place of worship and rest and healing and helping you learn how God is a good provider (Matt 7:9-11). Sabbath sets us free to learn that striving for connection with God is what gives us true satisfaction and contentment (Matt 5:6).


Sabbath sets us free to learn that our true identity is that we are beloved children of God, and our purpose is found when we accept the invitation to join in his work as missionary servants in the kingdom of God (2 Cor 5:14-18).


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God has given you the gift of sabbath, it’s an invitation to enter into his rest, his peace, his wholeness. It’s an invitation to a day of rest and worship that sets you free from all the ways the world burdens us with things that pull us away from Jesus.


But HOW do we practice Sabbath? What if you want to try an intentional Sabbath for the first time in your life? Or if you want to refresh your intentionality with a day of worship.


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First, here’s some things to NOT include with your Sabbath. One of the things you should definitely NOT do when you’re trying to Sabbath is feel guilt or shame for “doing it wrong.” If you are like me, and are slowly growing in this as a new practice, then give yourself grace!


But I do want to share with you three things to NOT do on a Sabbath. You can think of these as your “NOT TODAY” list when you’re trying to Sabbath, either by yourself or as a family.


When you’re engaging in a Sabbath day, it’s best to NOT include Work, Worry, or your Wallet. I’ll explain.


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First, Work. Sabbath is a day of rest that is meant to be “holy,” that means “set apart.” It’s supposed to be different from the rest of your life.


We don’t work on the Sabbath because it’s a day to practice trusting God to provide for us. When my family has a Sabbath day, which we usually try to do on a Friday or a Saturday, we try to not even TALK about the stress at work, because we don’t even want to be thinking of work! (But, of course, we fall back into this again and again. Thank God for grace!)


Or how many of you couples have been on a date and struggle to not bring up work, worry, the kids, or finances? It’s so natural for that to come up, and all of a sudden, your sacred time and space together has become another vent session about the stress at work. Sometimes there is a need to be intentional about that protected space.


That also means that we don’t do any activities that feel like work. For me, I don’t check email, I don’t open the laptop to just “check things out,” and I don’t read over my sermon. It’s not that those things are bad, but they are all things where I feel like I’m providing for myself, or accomplishing something, or earning my worth. There are six other days for those sorts of things, but on the Sabbath, we rest from work.


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Second, we rest from Worry. Worry has an uncanny way of stealing joy from a day, and the Sabbath is meant to be joyful!


For my family, this means we try not to check social media, because it often leads to comparison and anxiety and feeling worried about missing out. We also try not to watch the news on Sabbath days, for the same reasons.


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Third, we rest from Wanting/Wishing. This means that we try not to be involved in any habits of purchasing or shopping or even wishing for things we don’t have.


The Sabbath is about enjoying the gifts that we already have, so I have to keep reminding myself to stay off Pinterest and Amazon on Sabbath days, because I don’t want to get caught in the endless scrolling and wishing for things that other people have. I want to be intentional about enjoying what I DO have, that God has already provided for me.


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And again, there is so much GRACE covering all of this. I’ve been TRYING to practice Sabbath for like 6 years. Megan and I have gone through seasons where we’re really intentional, and then we go through months and months where we aren’t intentional at all. We fall into bad habits that aren’t really restful.


Because the Sabbath is different from a “day off.” Honestly, there’s all sorts of things that I have done because I’m exhausted, and I “just want to decompress.” But those aren’t actually RESTFUL.


Laying in bed and scrolling on my phone for an extra hour isn’t helping me rest. Binging a show on TV isn’t helping me reconnect with God or my family in a way that is transforming me to be more like Jesus.


Being selfish the whole day with what “I” need while avoiding my family is putting extra burden on Megan, so that’s not entering into Sabbath.


So what are things that might be good ways to begin practicing Sabbath? I’ve got a simple list of three things to try. And again, these are suggestions and invitations. These are not something you “have to” do in order to earn points with God.


Sabbath is about worship, and it sets you free. So as we go through these ideas, pray and ask God if he’s inviting you to try something here as a way to connect with him more so he can work in your life.


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I’ve got three things for you, and they all start with the letter “R”: Rest, Replenish, and Restore.


First, Rest your body. This might be a no-brainer, but a day of rest means literal rest! Take a nap. Lounge a little more than normal. I used to like to go out and lay in my hammock (that is, until my toddler wants to climb up with me and use me as a trampoline).


Does this mean you can’t work out at the gym, or you can’t lift things around the house? Of course not. There is grace in all of this, but it’s a good idea for you and your family to discuss what types of things you can include in your Sabbath that are physically restful.


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Second, Replenish your spirit. It’s no secret that laying on the couch all day and watching youtube videos might be PHYSICALLY restful, but it isn’t guaranteed to replenish you. So it’s a good idea to think of things that you and your family can DELIGHT in, not just be DISTRACTED by.


What are things that bring you joy? For me, grilling is definitely something that is restful and replenishes me. I also like going on a walk that is leisurely. And while I like to watch a movie with my family, I know that too much screen time has negative effects on all of us, so we try not to overdo it.


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Third, Restore your soul. Sabbath is a time for worship, so find some things that help you connect with God. Listen to music in the house. Take a walk in nature and slow down enough to really notice all the little incredible miracles along the way. Read a book that God is using in your life.


My wife likes to just lay in the sun for a few minutes and listen to the birds. I like to read a book. Sometimes we listen to worship music during breakfast.


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Again, these are all things that we GET to do as we learn how to enter into a restful, worshipful Sabbath with our family and with God. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get anything “perfect.”


What’s one way your family can practice DELIGHT in your Sabbath? What if over lunch today you asked each person what is something that brings them delight that they can share with the family and with God?


Don’t let perfectionism or the fear of failure keep you from the joys of learning to Sabbath as a family. Don’t delay one more minute from trying the practice of Sabbath because it will truly change your life.


There’s quote that’s attributed to St. Augustine that says, “A picture of food doesn’t nourish. Only eating food nourishes.”


Learning ABOUT something does NOT help you enjoy the benefits of that thing. That’s why the best advice I got for Sabbath was from an author and theologian, AJ Swoboda, who said, “We DO Sabbath before we understand it.” It’s better to just start, and figure it out as you go.


That’s why I want you to commit to “stumble forward” into practicing Sabbath. It might be jerky at first, but it’s worth doing. And I’m intentional with talking about it as a “practice.” We practice Sabbath, we don’t perform it perfectly.


Practicing Sabbath helps us learn how to trust God with our time the rest of the week. Practicing Sabbath helps us learn how to rely on God’s providence in all areas of life. When we take a day to not strive and earn, we get to slowly learn how God cares for us. And practicing Sabbath helps us learn how to enjoy the gifts God has already given us, instead of always seeking out more and more to feel filled up.


There are so many benefits to having a Sabbath practice as a family, so I really want to encourage you to start now. Stumble forward into this life-giving practice. Start small, and see how it grows from there.


Maybe you can start with a family dinner with no TV or phones. Instead, each member of the family takes turns sharing about some way that God provided for them that week. If this isn’t something your family has done much before (besides Thanksgiving dinner, maybe) then I guarantee that it might feel awkward at first. But give yourselves grace and stumble into it together.


Or maybe you can start by establishing a family walk on your Sabbath. Together, outside, no phones. It might take a while, but that might become a little moment of Sabbath rest in the midst of an otherwise go-go-go life.


Or maybe you can have each member of your family take turns picking what meal you have together on a Sunday evening. And then, extend the experience by cooking it together! And the next week, have someone else pick the meal and cook THAT one together!


We GET to practice Sabbath because God our Father has created it for us. But practice it as an art-form, not another rule to keep. It’s life-giving, not a “have to.”


Sabbath is given to us as a gift we get to receive. God is inviting you to accept this gift. He’s the host that is creating the space and time for us, and he’s beckoning us in. He’s inviting us to come back each week to worship him together with our family and others, to learn from him, and to delight in the gifts he has provided for us so that we can slowly over time be transformed to be more like Jesus. To be more loving, more patient, more forgiving, more content, more joyful.


Isn’t that good news?