Rhythm Of Rest

Last week, we were challenged to embrace change as Spirit-filled believers following God’s lead wherever and whenever He may take us. We were reminded from Ecclesiastes chapter three about how there is a time and season for everything in life.

A few weeks ago, we learned how God created everything with boundaries and how His moral boundaries should be just as valued and appreciated as His physical boundaries like the atmospheric boundary between our lungs and the vacuum of space and the separation of dry land from the oceans.

We can learn a lot about God from His creation. So much so that God’s word teaches us that not a single person who will ever live is without excuse for not knowing and worshipping Him!

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

When God created boundaries, He also created something else for our benefit, rhythm. Rhythm is a constant and recurring change. Sounds kind of contradictory, right?

Most of us first learned about rhythm at a young age learning how to clap put patterns. Constant and recurring change.

We learned last week about this same paradox that exists in God’s creation which also exists in Himself. He is constant and never changing, yet He rarely does the same constant thing the same way twice. Constant and recurring change.

God is our victor and He always wins His battles. However, nearly all of His victories won through the nation of Israel had different battle plans, some very unconventional ones, too!

God is our healer and Jesus healed every sickness and every disease of those who sought Him for it. However, He rarely healed them the same way twice.

Constant and yet changing – rhythm.

According to Genesis 1, on the very first day, God created day and night. Then on day four, He created the sun and the moon to govern those time periods. Every single day since then, the sun rises and the sun sets. There is day and there is night. A steady, predictable rhythm. A constant and recurring change.

Change happens, day turns to night. It is constant, there is day and there is night. It is recurring, day turns to night turns to day turns to night turns to day… A constant and recurring change.

This rhythm was created on day one for us, for our own good and benefit. We were created with the need to be awake for so long and then asleep for so long. If you think this isn’t important, then you’ve never worked swing shifts or lived in Alaska where this rhythm is routinely challenged.

God created everything over the period of six days and then chose to rest on the seventh day – another rhythm. He did it to set an example for us of how important it is to maintain a rhythm of working and resting.

He created other rhythhms as well. Generally speaking, we’re born, we marry, we have children, they marry, they have children, our children’s children marry and have children, then we die. God created everything to exist in a rhythm.

Now God didn’t need to take a day off and there isn’t any evidence that He has taken one of since. He did it to show us our own need to set a rhythm in life of work and rest.

He carried this rhythm into the ceremonial laws that He gave to Israel when He was defining them as a nation. Not only were they to take one day off each week, but they were also to plant and harvest for six years, then to give the fields a rest on the seventh year.

Then, after seven years of doing the seventh year rest, they were to take an entire year called the year of Jubilee.

This year was like a giant reset year for everyone. Slaves were set free, debts were cleared and forgiven, and property was returned to it’s original owner. They were not to sow nor harvest their fields, but to live straight from whatever the fields provided.

It was an exciting year of freedom, but also of trust in God’s ability to provide for their immediate needs.

God did all that He could through His creation and through the way that He setup the nation chosen to represent Him the critical need for us to live with a certain rhythm of work and rest. For sure, there is a time and a season for everything and these times and seasons have an intended rhythm.

God sets these rhythms for our lives.

His cadence isn’t to religiously keep us all marching in perfect step and conformity like a band in a parade moving down the street. God’s cadence is to keep us all moving and playing our unique, individual role so that we cooperate in harmony like the silent drum major directing that same marching band out on the field.

As they each play their unique part and move just when and where they are supposed to, they all cooperate together to create an amazing show!

I love how Jesus intentionally brings people from all walks and seasons of life into even a small and local church. New believers, growing believers, mature believers. Singles, new families, great-grandparents. Poor, middle-class, rich. Liberal, conservative, and indifferent. Unity expressed through diversity consisting of a rhythm – constant and yet changing.

It is important for us to discern not only the time and season that God has us in, but also to find a healthy rhythm in life.

Jesus woke up early in the morning to pray. Prayer should be one aspect that we fit into our everyday rhythm of life. Perhaps you’re not a morning person, though. That’s OK, stay up late and pray away.

Eating, sleeping, working, playing, praying, learning, worshipping; these are all beats within a healthy rhythm of life. If any one of them are missing or we do any one of the too much, our rhythm in life is off and we’ll suffer as a result.

Jesus was often criticized for not following the same religious rhythm that others in His culture followed. It wasn’t that they were wrong, it was just that He was intentionally on a different rhythm as them.

Mark 2:18-28
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

I’ve taught these verses in several different contexts. However, the immediate context reads as that of rhythm.

Sure, there would come a time when His disciples would fast, but that time was not now. If we try to force ourselves into the time and season and rhythm of someone else, it will break us and tear apart them as well. It’s just like that patch or wineskin.

It’s important not that we are moving through life in the same rhythm as others, but that we serve one another wherever God has each of us.

Rhythm that is all identical is no rhythm at all. Also, rhythm that randomly pops in and out of the scene isn’t rhythm at all. Also, rhythm that tries to play all at the same time isn’t rhythm at all. It’s only when our rhythm overlays with the rhythms of others that our lives become fuller and more complete.

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

We were not created for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was created for us, it is a gift of God to take a rest from our work. Ensuring that we accept this gift and build rest into our rhythm of life to simply enjoy the life that God has given us is a sin.

To reject this gift reveals a lack of trust in God to provide enough time and resources for us to accomplish what He has called us to in the other six days of a week.

Now what Jesus was dealing with here in this confrontation was something that God confronted often through His word with His people. They religiously followed the letter of the law as a tradition, but failed to understand and embrace the spirit of the law.

They religiously observed the seventh day as the Sabbath day, though they didn’t necessarily understand the Spirit and intent behind the Sabbath.

God created it to be a day to enjoy life and relationships with one another free from work. This was the point of it and to take it is to honor God. If an opportunity came up to do good and to help someone, God was perfectly fine with someone doing so.

Isaiah 58:13‭-‬14
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The Sabbath day was created as a gift for us by God. Why would we use it to just keep doing what we want and not use it to honor Him? Perhaps if we began living in this type of rhythm, our lives would be more joyful and we would start winning in life once again!

Again, God’s people were missing it. They were criticized for not fasting when others were fasting and for eating some grain straight from the field on the Sabbath day. They were following the letter of the law, but were missing God’s heart by not understanding the Spirit of the law.

A Sabbath rest is like a bass kick in life’s rhythm. It may not be the most exciting of sounds and some even outright don’t like it at all, but it is the driving beat that keeps the rest of our lives moving as it ought to.

We ought to view a day of rest not as a burden, but as a gift. We ought to view a day of rest not as miserable as we consider all of the things that we still have to get done, but as a refreshing day to enjoy life’s blessings and all that we have accomplished so far.

Far too many of us are so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. No one ever looks back on their life and regrets that extra hundred yards of curbing that they didn’t get done. They don’t regret just that one more sale or closing they could have scored. They don’t regret that function that they didn’t stay later to write.

No, they regret time not spent with family and friends. They regret building that porch swing and then never using it. They regret that they can’t make that phone call just to chat about the weather.

We can live with no regrets and God gifted us an entire day to do these things so that we don’t miss out on them.

Perhaps Jesus is tugging on your heart this morning? Perhaps you can hear Him as He speaks to you:

Matthew 11:28-30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It’s so easy to be convicted here and now and to know that we need to make some changes, but to leave here and fall right back into our familiar, but unhealthy rhythm of busyness.

Change is hard, but it is necessary. As we force ourselves to build a Sabbath rest into our rhythm of life, it will feel awkward and even wrong at first.

However, as we repeat it, it will become a natural part of our lives and everything else will fall in line as well. More and more studies are proving what God’s word already teaches us. We can accomplish far more in a week’s time if we purpose rest into our schedule.

Productivity increases as rest does. Microsoft tested a four day work week last year, providing Friday’s off throughout the summer month of August. They found that productivity increased by 40% during that time! (https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/04/tech/microsoft-japan-workweek-productivity/index.html)

There are many other studies out there as well proving that we can actually accomplish more with less time IF we spend time resting instead. It’s kind of like we were designed that way or something, right?

The question really is, “Do we trust God?” Do we trust that we will accomplish all that we are supposed to while also taking a day off each week to rest?

Mankind hasn’t changed much over the years. We close with what is, in my opinion, the most practical and undeniable way that God revealed His desire for us to maintain this rhythm of rest in our lives.

Exodus 16:14‭-‬30
14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you[c] refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

So how are we going to choose to respond this morning? Are we going to choose to trust God and walk by faith OR are we going to get up on the seventh day and look around with our eyes?

Are we going to adjust our rhythm of life to walk in step with the Spirit so that we have one day of rest a week or are we going to stubbornly keep marching to our own drum?

The Sabbath is a gift for you and I. It’s a Selah, a rest. Let’s take it and trust God with, well, the rest!