"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

 Matthew 11:28

Come to me and I will give you rest. Oh, there are days when I long for this. Life is busy and busy makes me weary. The burdens of a busy life make me weary.

But it’s not just sleep I yearn for. After a long and hard day it’s not hard to fall into bed and sleep. There is something more missing. Something deeper my heart is craving these days.

A connection.

Connection to something deeper, more intimate.

Our souls long for a connection to God. To rest in him and to know his peace. God created rest. He even modeled how to do it. Six days he worked and then “…and on the seventh day God rested.” Gen 2:2

So why is it so hard in our culture to rest? I think there are a few reasons why this is so difficult for people today. We are a very driven society. We have created things to make our lives “easier”, but in reality, we have created things to help us be more productive and busier. We are driven and we have placed our value on how much we can accomplish. We have become so good at this. So much so, we have accepted the definition of success based on how much we can get done. When we do get a chance to relax we don’t know how to do it and we become fidgety, restless and grumpy.

I’ll make a confession here; I am a people pleaser and very performance driven. I will work my tail off to serve and care, for others. And I would tell you I am doing it for the Lord, that I don’t need others approval, I just want to serve the Lord. But those would be lies, because deep down I do desire others approval. But here is the biggest lie. I am driven to perform for my Lord and it is His approval I seek.

Friend, before we go any further on our quest for Sabbath, please hear this: HE LOVES YOU. And you don’t need to perform for God. He loved you even before you knew and accepted him. We don’t have time today to go into this further, but know this. God loves you and wants you. And his grace covers us like a warm blanket on a snowy day. This grace is here, reaching out to us in the cup of his hands, for us to accept. If there is anything you have to “do”, is accept this grace.

God created Sabbath. And you might think, whew! I’m sure glad he did because I need a break. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can sleep in and stay in my jammies all day watching TV.

I don’t think that’s what God had in mind though. In Exodus 31:17 the Bible says: “It will be a sign between me and the Israelite forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested."

Many of us see this as the example God gives us of how we should rest. You would be right. And in Exodus 20:8-11 God commands we rest and describes what it is. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. ...Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Our rest should be a holy time with God.

Rest 2

So God created it and even commands us to do it, but we don’t do it do we? We fill our Sabbath days with church but by the afternoon house cleaning, laundry, yard work or odd projects around the house keep us busy. When we do make an attempt to do nothing, it can be hard to shut off that brain.

Spending time in Sabbath with God is hard work. It actually takes an intentional act on our part to spend time with God. So how do we do that? What does that look like?

How do we quiet ourselves to truly be in rest with God?

We’ll keep it simple and prepare ourselves with just a few things. A few spiritual disciplines that will help.

• Praying. Praying will help you begin the process of entering his presence with a reverent heart.
• Reading his Word. Reading God’s word will remind you of his goodness, his love for you and how he blesses you. I suggest         starting in Psalms.
• Don’t rush it. We are good at checking off the task list. Sabbath isn’t a task it’s entering the presence of God. It’s the beginning of seeking God.
• You might want to keep a journal handy to write down things God will reveal.
• Have some music of soft hymns playing in the background as well.

Again, remember this a time to enter into a special time with God, don’t make it a personal performance or a thing we make happen.

We've learned that seeking Sabbath is fundamental to spiritual health and even to emotional health, as some medical studies have shown. The word “health” means free from illness or injury and is a derivative of the word “whole”. “Whole” means unbroken or undamaged. I like this definition. If our desire is to seek spiritual wholeness we need to be resting in God.

There is another benefit to resting in Sabbath. When we create space in our lives we have time to be real with God. We connect with him. Questions arise, revelations are seen. As a kid did you ever spend time looking up at the sky daydreaming? Think of this Sabbath time as daydreaming with God. The cool part of daydreaming with God is that God can reveal some awesome things for your life. They don’t have to be big lofty dreams, but I guarantee He will show you things in your everyday life I bet you never noticed that God desires for you to take notice.

For example, as you follow these spiritual disciplines they will actually chase away those things that separate us from God. It will keep us focused on God’s heart and His intentions for our lives.

You may be afraid of quieting yourself. This may take you out of our comfort zone, but as God reveals Himself you will begin to see how much fun you will have spending time with God. Yes, I said fun. God is playful and enjoys our company.

Sabbath keeps us looking toward heaven. Resting in Him will not only bring you pleasure but it will bring God pleasure. There is nothing more exhilarating then feeling God’s pleasure when spending time with Him. Now that’s a great way to get re-energized.

IMG_1223

The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7

Father God, you gave us the breath of life.  It is what gives us life.  In this breath you give us a heart, a soul.  You in us.  Renew my spirit today with this breath of life.  Help me to remember each deep breath comes from you.

I read this verse earlier this week and made a note in my journal to acknowledge God every time I took a deep breath.  Here's what resulted in my little challenge.

I took time to breath.

And each time I did I praised God for the breath of life.

There are many benefits to deep breathing including reducing stress, anxiety, even lower your blood pressure.

But when you do it and praise God for that breath it changes your attitude.  Not only did it change my outlook, I was aware of my interaction with God more times that day.  And that's a good thing.

Let's face it, life is busy and if you are like me it's coming lighting fast.  Slowing down is a good thing!  One I need to do more often.

What ways are your reminded of God through out the day?

IMG_0549

I have the privilege of working at a church.  It is a vibrant and growing church and I love the people there.  Our church is old in years but our building is relatively new.  As our church began to grow we knew we needed to move.  Our old building was land locked and there was no where else to go on our current property.  Our wise leadership team began looking and prayerfully and thoughtfully purchased land where our current building now sits.  This was an exciting time for our church.  There have been times in ministry I have sat back and watch with amazement at how God moves His people.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

I read this passage and I get excited.  This was the beginning, the movement that started the church.  These people not only believed in God, they saw Jesus!  They knew without a doubt that Jesus died on a cross and rose again.  And they were all about doing the work of the church.  And it was amazing.

Like I said I have watch in amazement at how God moves people to do his work.  But today as I reflect on this passage, I'm not surprised at how God moves people.  It's not like I sit there and say "Wow, God, didn't see that one coming!"  I've come to expect amazing.  He is God after all and I love to watch him use people for His Glory.

He moves children to collect cans of food for a food pantry.

He moves families to want to take care of orphans and widows.

He moves young men to minister to those battling addictions.

He moves men and women to teach young children about Him.

He moves hurting people toward Him to be redeemed by His grace.

He's moved me through my own story of hurt and healing to come to Him each and every day and say "Lord, I need you."  He's moved me to share my story.

So I expect amazing.  I'm not surprised by it any longer.  I delight in it.  For such a time as this I get to witness God in amazing ways.  I'm humbled I serve in the capacity He's called me too.

It's an exciting time to be a part of a church.  We as Christians are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  If you are a believer, tell me where is God using you?  If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior may I invite you to find out more?  Look for a local Christian church who can help you start your journey.  Oh and by the way?   Expect amazing!