Pastor J.D. shares that the Christian Sabbath is much more than a day off to do what we want to do. Rather, the Sabbath is a principle for all of life as we put God first.

A glimpse inside this episode:

We believe regular corporate gathering on the Lord’s Day is an essential, non-negotiable element in the life of a disciple.

  • Verses such as Hebrews 10:24-25 tell us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
  • We believe that God has instituted into creation a 7-day rhythm or work and rest/worship.
  • We don’t think believers are no longer under Old Testament laws, but the design reflected in those laws advises us to set aside a day every week for rest and worship. We see this practice reflected in the early church, who seem to use Sunday as their primary day of gathering. Thus, we make a commitment to our regular corporate gatherings part of our membership covenant, explaining that church discipline applies to those who do not observe it.

What do you mean by “we are no longer under it”–take it or leave it?

  • The OT laws are fulfilled in Jesus, so we no longer are bound to the particulars, but the principle behind is the same.

In fact, if you’ll let me, it’s not just with one day a week that we see the Sabbath principle play out—Let me list out a few.

1. One day a week for rest, renewal and relationships

  • Again, one day to be rather than to do. To focus on God, relationships, and enjoy his creation.
  • It doesn’t have to be on a Sunday. When the early church changed it from Sat to Sunday they were showing that it wasn’t a particular day that was essential.
  • For most of you it should be, but it’s at least one day a week where you cease from your labors and enjoy God and the gifts he has given.
  • Public worship should always be a part of it, because your relationship with God is central in in your life.
  • But it’s also a day to be with family, and be outdoors, and to do things you enjoy.

This next one might surprise you at first, but hear me out…

2. Tithing

  • (You think, “You always know how to tie it back to this… hear me out).
  • Tithing is an application of the Sabbath principle (Deuteronomy 7–8)
  • Tithing means giving at least the first 1/10 your income back to God. You don’t do it because you have 10% extra in your budget you can’t figure out what to do with. You do it, just like they took the Sabbath day off, as a declaration that God is the provider and ultimately you trust him to make the ends meet.
  • That’s why when people say, “I can’t afford to tithe!” I say, “You can’t afford not to!” God said, “Obey me by giving me 10% you think you can’t afford, and watch how I multiply the remaining 90%!”
    • I can’t explain exactly how he does it… only that he always does!
    • You can’t out-give him. It’s only when I’ve violated this principle that I’ve gotten in real trouble.
    • It’s like with 6 days… do less than you can and he will multiply the rest

Here’s another one that may surprise you… 

3. Sleep

  • Let me take you to one of my favorite passages (that I have tattooed on my wrist!
    • Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
    • What’s the sign in this verse that you are beloved by God? Sleep.
    • Looking out at you right now, I can see several of you are feeling beloved by God right at this very moment!
    • But if you are asleep, whose got the city? Who is building the house? Who is watching the city? The psalmist smile sweetly and says, “God is.”
    • God intended sleep to be a time every day where you remind yourself you’re not God.
  • Personal confession: The more responsibility I get, the more trouble I have sleeping. I always wake up worried. Don’t send me your new miracle pillow or new herbal remedy or essential oil that you want me to rub on my kneecaps that’s going to make it all better. That’s not the problem. I sleep badly sometimes because I am worried about who is watching the city—of my family, the church, the SBC.
    • But here’s what I’ve learned: God wants me to lay down each night (it’s kind of like a daily Sabbath) just to remind myself that I’m not God. So, when I lie down to sleep I say, “God, I am turning myself off, even though there is a ton to do… and lots to worry about… but you are staying on and you designed me to turn off, so I can trust you to handle what I can’t.”
    • At 3:30, you’ve not appointed me to worry about “the city,” appointed me to sleep which must mean you have the city
    • 4-hour work-week example: I was reading an article by a small-business owner who said he had trouble sleeping…
    • It is not my responsibility to guard the city or finish the house or pay the billsthat’s God’s job. It’s my job to be faithful, and after you’ve been faithful you can lie down to sleep and leave it in his hand.

4. Daily Sabbath

Daily times to unplug and refocus yourself

  • That means doing a QT: time at the beginning of the day to refocus yourself
  • Building time into the day to recenter
    • I know a pastor who asked his assistant to build a 5-minute space between each one of his meetings for him to pray. Between each counseling appointment, staff meeting, or visit, he would take five minutes to stop, pray, and rest. He would literally pause his day, multiple times per day, simply to rest.[3]
  • And time just to let your mind rest (Churchill) – “The best way to rest is to have your mind totally engrossed in something you don’t typically do.”
  • Or how about this one—NAP. A recent study found that a 30-minute nap three times a week cuts your heart attack risk by 40%. Other studies have shown that people who nap are actually more productive.

5. Yearly Vacations

Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus commanding his people to take time off to remind themselves that they aren’t the ones doing the work:

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

  • Look at the phrasing: So many were coming!
  • It’s not like there was nothing to do. There was still a line! But Jesus knew there was time to stop and prioritize the Father.
  • And reflect on the fact that it is God who does the work.

Another one of my favorite examples of this: Acts 1: “Do nothing.”

  • They’d just been given the largest assignment ever given—and instead of getting right to work, they were told to do nothing. (Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting they were on vacation—but God was reminding them that ultimately the responsibility to complete)

(BTW, when I say vacations, I know I lose some of you…“I can’t afford that…” Or, “If I take a vacation, I don’t get paid.” I get it. Don’t think Disney World here, necessarily—I mean time for you just to unplug and focus on relationships. A staycation. Go to local parks and play games.)

These are all ways you put Sabbath into practice. You stop to proclaim Christ as your rest.