Bible Verse: Matthew 11:28

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Pastor Chris Paavola:
Once again, everybody happy Mother’s Day. Good morning. How are we doing today? You know that when you ask most Americans, 75% of Americans, if you ask them, how are you doing? 75% of Americans will use the word busy in response. You hear it all the time like, how you doing? We’re good, we’re busy, we’re busy, but we’re good. Life’s crazy right now. We are just busy running. But yeah, we’re good, we’re good. Busy is just this epidemic and it doesn’t really matter the class or culture that you’re a part of something about. We are just running at breakneck speeds all the time. We call it a rat race, chasing cheese after cheese. We are just busy people. Maybe it has something to do with our Americana.

We are a time-based culture and just running from deadline to deadline. Maybe it’s something to do with capitalism in there. I’m not entirely sure, but no matter how many apps we develop for productivity and stuff like that, it feels like the more productive we get because of these apps. We just fill that space not with leisure, but with more responsibility and more things. And we are just a busy people. And probably it’s fitting that we’re talking about this on Mother’s Day because the people who are probably the most busy among us are moms. Just like the responsibilities and expectations that you guys carry around. And men, we can do dishes and we can maybe fold laundry and make dinner, but you do it much better than us and you just have an inclination towards it. And I think something about it too also has to do with the rise of two income households.

And that’s not speaking against it or for it, I’m just an observation. There’s a rise in two income households, but when you get home, the laundry needs to get folded and dishes still need to get done after you’ve been working all day. And so often that responsibility falls on mom’s shoulders. And so moms especially are busy people and we are needing this series where we’re going to be talking about God’s Sabbath solution for us, and we’re going to be talking about this idea of rest. Now admittedly, we’re all on different scales of this. So here’s what I want you to do real quick to kind of just get our heads around this topic. Turn to the person next to you and scale of one to 10, one being like comatose, nothing, and 10 being I’m running around a chicken with my head cut off. I’m so busy. What number would you give yourself? Turn to the person next to you and tell ’em the number you would give go.

All right, so whatever number you gave yourself, most of us are on the raise your hand if you were above a five, if you were on that end. Okay, good. I’m talking to you. Okay, good. Honestly, though, I feel like such a hypocrite standing here because I am a very driven personality. I’m always thinking of how can I fill the margins with something and squeeze everything out of life and make the, I’m always thinking about the next email to send to the next project. I am a very busy personality. I cannot sit still. And so I am a hypocrite standing up here and I feel like there are other people in the room who’d be far more qualified to get up here and talk about rest because my experience in relationship with rest is an unhealthy one.

I remember this is not recent, so don’t worry, don’t, don’t need 85 people asking me, mother hen, am I okay. But a few years ago where I was sitting in my office at the place that I worked at the time and I started feeling dizzy, I’m like, that is weird. I’m just sitting here working on a stressful email. Why would I possibly be D busy, right, dizzy right now. So anyway, but it went away. I thought nothing of it. Then the next day I got dizzy again and I got a tingling in my hands and I’m like, uh oh, that’s not supposed to happen. So, I went to the urgent care and the doctor was like, you’re going to err because your blood pressure is through the roof. And I was like, oh my. And I would tell you guys my number, but then you would all judge me.

So I’m not going to tell you the number, but it was bad. And I go to the ER and I’m sitting down with the doctor and he gave me some medicine. He’s like, this is kind of how you’re hardwired. Your body is just like this, but there is stuff you can do. So here’s a prescription of medicine, and then here’s a new diet that you should be doing, and here is some exercise that you should be doing, and then here is some rest that you should be doing. And I was like, oh my goodness. And I remember the next day I had one cup of coffee, and then I was like, wait, more caffeine raises your blood pressure. So I learned about this thing called decaf, and I was like, okay, I’m going to have, so I remember that next day I was sitting there and oh, and eating bananas lowers your blood pressure.

So I’m like, eat gorging on bananas. And that brought some other problems. But anyway, I remember sitting there that morning having this new breakfast of decaf coffee and a banana, and I’m sitting on my patio trying to rest, hurry up, serenity. No, I’m trying to rest and it’s totally not working. And I’m sitting there and I’m instantly started thinking about projects and emails I need to do. And I got to fix the car today, and I got to all of this is my day off and I’m filling it with stuff to do. And I was like, I’m not resting. So I took a few centering breaths, calmed myself and opened my eyes. And right in front of me was in the garden. There was a pinwheel, my daughter had stuck in the garden and it was spinning and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

I was just looking at the spinning pinwheel. It was mesmerizing. And then I realized it’s spinning because there’s a breeze. And I felt this breeze on my cheek in the back of my neck that I didn’t feel earlier. And then I realized the birds were singing and I’m noticing birds that I hadn’t heard before and they’d been singing all along, but I was too busy to realize it and recognize it. And I’m like, man, I have got a lot to learn about this thing called rest. And I was convicted that it wasn’t, I mean, your body keeps score, right? Your body keeps a score. You can caffeinate yourself and set the alarm early to try to dodge it and subvert it, but your body keeps score and it will let you know the score at some point. I think that sometimes I just get sick sometimes because my body wants me to shut down.

And it wasn’t the command of my body. And it wasn’t the command of, I’m sorry, it wasn’t the command of God or the command of the doctor per se. It was the command of my body telling me to shut down because I was so terrible at this idea of rest and really following God’s commands to rest. And I thought as I was sitting there on the patio, I thought of the words from Exodus 20 that we get the commands. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy six days, you shall labor and do, oh boy, all of your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath. It’s the Hebrew word for rest, a Sabbath to the Lord your God. And on it you shall not do any work. And I was reading that going, I’m terrible at this. And so in this series, I’m looking at a bunch of other type a terrible resters and inviting you to just repent with me over the next month and learn about so we can live out this command of God that we’ve treated like a suggestion.

And I got to be honest, I fell in love with the illness far more than the stillness. And I think this might be the most neglected command of God. I mean, this is like a 10 commandment. This is the greatest Hits album. This is on the short list of commands that God has for us is to rest and we are awful at it.

And so in this series, I want to learn about and live out this command to rest, and I’m inviting you with me to get better at this than we currently are. Now, I came by it honest, my family is super industrious and I know there’s a bunch of Dutch people in the room, a bunch of Germans, Scandinavians, and this work ethic is ingrained in us. My grandparents, their parents immigrated like Ellis Islands and then the great depression and work was non-negotiable.

What Was Your Family’s View Of Work?

And then my mom’s side is all farmers and the cow still needs to be milked regardless. So this work is non-negotiable. And my dad’s side is this blue collar grain elevator family. And so even my dad now, he’s in his seventies and he won’t retire. He just won’t retire because he loves the work part of it. But he I think finds a lot of his identity in work. And we will say it with a grin and we shouldn’t be grinning about this, but we’ll say quote, he doesn’t know how to sit still, end quote. And I look at that and I’m like, oh my goodness, I’m doing it too. I am coming by this very honestly, I am just because stuff is caught not taught so much when we’re growing up and I’ve obviously learned something that I need to unlearn.

Your View of Work And Rest

And so before we unlearn something, we got to figure out where we are. What’s our current modus operandi? What’s our current MO? So turn to the person next to you. Now answer this question, how did your family view work? Okay, what was the attitude around this idea of work? Turn to the person next to you and answer that question, how does your family view this idea of work? Go.

What Was Your Family’s View Of Rest?

So mom and dad’s feeling a little guilty right now. Okay, next one. Then answer this question, how does your family view rest? Was it like this idea of like, man, we always, or was it laziness? What was your attitude, your family’s attitude about rest? Go. Go. So that’s your view of rest and work, whether or not, I mean that’s what you’re battling against, whatever it is and wherever it is on the spectrum. But now let’s take a look at God’s view on this idea of rest and work so we can kind of unlearn stuff and relearn stuff.

And it comes from Genesis two, this section that we were reading a little bit earlier, but it says, go ahead, Genesis two verse two. By the seventh day God had finished the say it work he had been doing. Okay, so he’s making everything out of nothing.

God’s View Of Work And Rest

He’s saying, let there be and there be right. So he says, let there be light, let there be lands. He’s designing everything from the stars to salamanders and everything in between. And he’s like, okay. And when the sun flares, it’s going to make this cool lights. Anyone see the aurora boles this week? Anyone see that? It was far enough away to see it was nuts, man. The photos were crazy. And then he’s like, okay. And then he’s going to tilt the earth and just the right angle for the seasons and the sunlight and all that kind of stuff. And then the moon is going to be so far away from the earth so that it pulls the ocean tides and then we get sea turtles. All of this like crazy orchestration, symphony of design, totally interrelated and interdependent with one another orchestrated. And that’s his work.

By the way. Notice that he’s working before there’s sin in the world. And in the reading we heard a little bit earlier, God places Adam and Eve in the garden before. There’s sin in paradise and there are working. I hate to break it to you. When you get to heaven, there’s going to be work to do. Work is a part of God’s design and perfect world. In fact, work and rest go hand in hand. There needs to be a relationship with both. If there’s a lack of work and you’re just a sloth, you become slothful. You become unfruitful because you’re just resting. And no matter how much you rest, you feel unrested. And on the other side, if you’re always working all work and no play, if you’re always working, you’re also unfruitful because you have diminishing return and you suddenly become unproductive in your work.

You need time to sharpen the saw and refresh. And so there’s this balance with work and rest in God’s design for all of us. And look at creation, the land, God builds rest into the land and he makes season so that it can go dormant and recover. And we know with planting crops like you rotate your crops and you give it a year off every once in a while it needs to rest. And every creature, I don’t care what creature it is, they all have to at some point recharge and sleep and he designs it. So we stop and refresh and rest and every creature sleeps sleep standing up, which is wild and blows my mind, but they all rest. And we think with our productivity apps and all of our, I can send an email to Nairobi and how technologically advanced we are that somehow we can outwit and outsmart this design that is in all of us to both work and rest.

And so, God taking lead on this decides he’s going to rest as well. So on the seventh day, he say it rested from all his work and God rests. He’s giving us an example. Is God tired? No God, he’s is all powerful and all wise and he doesn’t need to rest, but he stops and he rests and notice what he does. He stops and rests because the work is finished, the work is good, he’s looking at all of it and he says it is good and it doesn’t need his constant intervention to make it happen. He kind of sets it in motion. And if he needs to do the supernatural he can, but everything is interdependent and interwoven and working because it is good. And as he has designed it in his wisdom and power. And so he stops and rests to reflect on and celebrate his work, a concept that will become really important for us in a few moments.

But God rests to reflect on and celebrate his work. And then we get verse three, then God blessed the seventh day and made it say it louder because on it, he rested from all the work that he had been doing. He made it holy. And it’s such an interesting word to throw in there, holy, because what does holy mean? If you were going to define it, we’d talk about like, oh, clean white. Oh, like holy something. But what the word holy means is different set apart. Unlike the common, that’s what makes it holy. And so he’s saying that the seventh day, the day we celebrate him and his work, and when the day we rest is different in some way, then everything we do on the other six days. Now what you did all six days, the chaos, the rat race, the breakneck speed, the ripping and running of all six days, that’s six days.

And then you rest and it’s different. What you do today is different than every other day, and that’s what makes it the Sabbath. And historically the Sabbath, it was on Saturday. That’s when Jews celebrated the Sabbath. And you can hear that in language like Saturday and Spanish. Sao, you can hear Sabbath in there. And then after the resurrection, Christians, we started celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday. On Sunday we gathered together on Sunday to rest because this was the first day of the new creation when Jesus entered into his rest and allows us to enter rest. And so this is the day, Sunday is now the day that we call the Sabbath day as followers of Jesus. And it’s a holy day, meaning that what you do today should be different than every other day of the week. And this is a concept we’re going to talk about a little bit later on.

This is God’s view on work and rest and why there’s this relationship between work and rest. Some principles start to emerge from this, and one of them is that when you look at all of this, we rest. We follow this command to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. We rest. We Sabbath on this day because we are believing and confessing and taking God at his word that he is in control. He designs his work and his work is good, and it’s under his supervision, running it as a smooth operation as he’s designed it and he’s in control. And then he tells us to be like Chick-fil-A closed on Sunday hobby lobby shut. The doors don’t work. I’m in control. It’s this great hypothesis, this dare from him like Now you guys stop working and an act of trust of whether or not we do.

Are we taking God at his word to stop working and to simply rest on this day, we’re saying he’s in control. I’m not in control. By the way, if we don’t believe that God is in control, then we better start working. We better start worrying because there’s a whole lot going wrong and we got to fix it. And sometimes I feel like what we believe doesn’t match our actions because we’re working as if God’s not in control. And there’s this, suddenly you start to realize when you stop and rest and realize that God is in control, there’s this thing that happens that you can celebrate only because you do it. Your faith starts to grow and be refreshed and renewed and strengthened because you rest. And this is not a learning you can read in a book and mentally, okay, I got it. Good. I learned that thing.

This is not a concept that you can chase down and hunt down and okay, I’ve got it. I’ve captured this idea. I’ve achieved this idea. I now know what it means. You can only experience this by doing it by resting. And when you do this, you start to realize that there is something God is doing in you. When you gather together with his people on this day to rest together, there is something God is doing. It’s not observable, it’s not measurable. You can’t quantify it, you can’t weigh it. But something is happening in you right now because you dare to take up God up on his promise and said, I will rest on this day and make it holy by gathering with your people and God is doing something in you because of it. And that’s what Jesus says about the Sabbath. He says a lot about the Sabbath and we’ll get into it during the series, but Jesus, when he is talking about the Sabbath, he says this in Mark two, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The Sabbath Is Made For You

And we can get into some of the legalism and loopholes the Pharisees later on. But the point is, is God made this day for you to do something in you because you need it every six days. You need this thing that God is doing in you, and you need to be reminded of this every six days. This is how he’s designed you, just like he designed you for sleep. And so every six days, I want you to rest and let me do my thing in you as you rest. In other words, the Sabbath was made for you. The Sabbath is not made to be this sense of obligation and duty to weigh you down and be another list of things that you check off of your long growing list of to-dos, the Sabbath, what we’re doing right now is made for you to refresh you and encourage you and strengthen you in ways that you can’t quite articulate. But it’s true, it’s made for you.

Lessons From A Bird

When I was in college, I took a photography class and we were doing this section on wildlife photography, and we had to go out and take photos of birds in nature. And the closer we could get to the bird, the better our grade would be. That was his assignment from the photographer or her assignment to us was the closer we could get to the bird and we had to use the school’s cameras. We couldn’t buy a really telescopic lens or something like that. We had to use their cameras. And the closer we got, the better our grade. And so they said the best way to take a picture of birds, and the best picture you’ll get is if you sit still long enough for the birds to come to you. And I was like, oh, okay. But 20-year-old Chris, brash, brazen. I’m like, ah, I’m going to knock this out.

There’s a park right across the street from the school. I’m going to knock this out and so I’m going to just real quick do this and get it done. And so I go to this park with the school camera and it’s a park with a little brook and a walking path and some trees and some brush and stuff like that, just kind of a city park. And so I go there and I see some birds over on the trees, and so I start walking towards them and what do the birds do? They fly away. So I take a picture, I’m like, there’s no way that’s good enough. So I’m like, dang it. So they flew away and I’m like, well, I’m going to go follow after them again. I think I can overcome the system that God’s put in place. I’m like, I’m going to get a close up.

I’m going to sneak up on the birds. And they’re like, we see you, Chris. It’s super obvious. And so I kind of walk through the brush to get closer to the birds. And of course, again, they flitter, flutter, fly away, and then they kind go over, they fly across the brook there, and I have to walk across the brook and I’m stepping on it. And my one foot, the socket gets wet. And then I jump to the shore and my other foot gets covered in mud and I’m like, dang it. And I’m starting to sweat and I’m like, look at me. This is ridiculous. I got a wet foot, a muddy foot. I’m sweating. Okay? So I stop and I sit down and I’m just like, I’m going to try what the actual teacher said to do. I’m sitting there and it was the most arduous minute. Nothing happens. I feel like you guys are sitting here. Like, look, I’m sitting here. Nothing’s happening. Then five minutes passed, and then suddenly about seven minutes later, this little bird, this little chickadee kind of hops a little bit closer and I am like, okay, he’s testing me out. I’m just going to sit still. And then his buddies kind of come by him, and then they start getting a little bit closer and a little bit closer. And finally I’m able to snap a picture of a chickadee and take this picture.

I sat still long enough to let the beauty of God’s design come close to me. And I think that’s our relationship with the Sabbath and what God wants for you in the Sabbath. We think we can hunt it down, chase it down intellectually ascend to this thing, learn it in a book. You can’t. You got to sit still long enough to let it come to you. And something immeasurable, incalculable happens in your faith when you dare to trust that God is in control, so much so that you’re willing to rest.

Now, every week in this series, we’re going to summarize our teaching and our time together by asking the simple question of how do you keep the Sabbath day holy? And there’s a lot to talk about in this topic, and I’ve actually sketched out all four weeks because there’s just so much ground to cover. And again, I think part of my ambition for this series is because of how poorly I’ve done this and how much I need this. And I think I’m looking at a group of people that need it too. And this week, the two things that I think based on our reading from Genesis two, mark two, and Exodus 20, looking at God’s word, what it has to say about this idea of the rest and Sabbath, there’s two principles that I think we can all walk out of here to help us remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy next week. And the first one is to rest from your work. Stop it! Don’t. Right? And it’s not just that it’s Mother’s Day. I give you permission today to not do the dishes. I give you permission today to see if the laundry folds itself. See, it happens. Okay? And already I was talking after the eight o’clock service and people were trying to find loopholes. “Well, if I’m if I’m mowing the lawn but I’m thinking about God, is that rest?” Stop it, you, Pharisees, stop trying to be, find the loophole and be the legalist on the other. No, stop it. Okay, quit. Don’t do anything rest today. Rest from your work. Do it Monday through Saturday and let Sunday be a day of rest for your soul.

Isn’t that what Jesus says? Come to me if you’re weary and in need and I will give you rest. And then the second thing is to remember God’s work and see, okay, lemme say something here. And if you’ve stopped listening, let me clarify something. Okay? Especially for people watching online going to South Haven, you can do that on the Sabbath day for sure. You can go golfing on the Sabbath day. That is restful. You can watch Netflix on the Sabbath day. Yes. But that doesn’t mean everyone watching Netflix or everyone in South Haven or everyone at the golf course is remembering the Sabbath because there’s a difference. It also involves pausing and reflecting on God’s work. And that’s why coming together matters so much. And we’re going to talk about this in the weeks ahead, but it’s when we come together and remember God’s work, and I see God’s work in your life and you see it in mine, and we consider it and we take the time to reflect together, that’s when something really starts to happen.

And you remember God’s work that yeah, he made the heavens and the earth and all. Yeah. And then, yeah, okay, then. Yep, that’s right. Okay. He lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and rose again for the forgiveness of my sins and reflecting on that. And then you start to remember God’s work. And by the way, in a few moments, we’re going to celebrate communion. And I’m going to give you bread and wine. I’m going to say take an eat in remembrance of me. That’s what Jesus says. Take an eat and remembrance me. And he gives you the wine and he says, take an eat. This is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me. And so we come together to remember that as well. Of course, that’s what Jesus does. He works remembrance into this meal that we do because that’s what we’re doing together.

And when you pause long enough to take the time to reflect on what God has done, that’s when you keep the Sabbath day holy. So it’s both of these things. It’s just like the relationship between work and rest. It’s this relationship between resting from your work and taking time as you rest to reflect on God’s work. Because something happens when you do that. You remember, oh, he’s in control, not me. And your anxiety starts to go down and your blood pressure starts to lower because he’s in control, not me. Okay, I got it. And when we forget that, when we don’t do that every six days, we get amnesia and we start doing stupid things because we start to feel like we’re in control and we have to control the situation and manipulate things. And it’s like, no, I’m in control. This is my church, Chris. This is my world, Karen. I’m in control.

And we remind ourselves of that. Only when we stop long enough to let the beauty of God’s creation come closer to closer to us as we sit still and rest. And honestly, I say this, not just because it’s a pastor who wants you to come back to church, but honestly, next week come back and let’s rest together. Come back. Let’s keep the Sabbath day together. And just to kind of show you how much we have to cover in the next few weeks, we’re going to cover a lot. This week we’re getting a new view of work and rest, and we’re just reminding ourselves of God’s view of it. Next week we’re going to talk about the work like life balance myth. It is a horrible myth that can just twist us up a knots trying to find a balance of work and life. It’s a joke and we need to talk about it and address it and look at what God’s word has to say about work life balance. And then week three, we’re going to talk about essential connections and rest like who you should be connecting with. And then in week four, we’re going to talk about what you should be looking at considering as you meditate and reflect while you rest with essential perspectives from rest. So please come back. Come back and let’s get better at this thing that we’re so terrible at and see what would happens when we slow down long enough to let God’s creation come close to us. Lemme pray for you.

Heavenly Father, we first of all confess that we are terrible at this idea of rest, and we have not done well with this command that we’ve treated your command like a suggestion. Forgive us, Lord, for all of my type, a weary over-committed, busy friends out there. God would you do what your word says and make us lie down in green pastures. Make us lie down. Teach us to rest. We say it with fear and trembling, but we know we need this. So help us to rest, Lord, and to learn what it means to not just have leisure and rest, but to rest in you and remember you. And then God, do what you do in our faith and in our hearts as we rest. That’s in Jesus’ name. We pray all of this. Amen.