The Messenger :: Practicing Sabbath Rest

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

As we enter into one of the more hectic times of the year, it's easy to get caught up in all the busyness (even doing God's work), and forget to focus on the One we serve. Before you know it, you may find yourself tired and worn out, both physically and spiritually. 

We're excited to kick off a new theme for this quarter on Soul Practices. Jay Jarboe, MRN's Empower Team Lead, is going to start it off with Sabbath Rest. He will help you understand God's design for Sabbath and why it's so important for you to rest. Keep reading to learn why God designed the Sabbath with you in mind.

Soul Care :: Practicing Sabbath Rest

“So, what I am hearing is that you think you are more important than God.”

At first, I could not believe the statement came out of my mouth. I was riding in a taxi with a national leader in his country. He was frustrated with a busy schedule. He looked shocked as if he was confused and did not know how to respond to my statement. I previously asked him, “When do you take a day off for rest?” His answer was “I don’t have time.” He began to list off the Bible studies, leadership meetings, group trainings, and all the things he did. I reminded him that God created the universe in six days and on the seventh day he rested “from all of his work that he had done” (Genesis 2:2).

And if God rested, yet you and I think we're too busy to rest, in some ways, we're saying that we're more important than God.

What is Sabbath rest?
God built into His creation work, fruitfulness, and productivity. One of the greatest gifts God gave us is a reason for existence, a purpose for living. Yet, God also created a Sabbath rest. In fact, the first thing that God created and called “holy” was the seventh day, a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3).

It is important to notice that God intended us to labor. Sabbath rest is proceeded by six days of work. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). From the beginning, God “took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Jesus also taught the disciples the importance of Sabbath rest. He sent the disciples out to preach and heal the sick (Luke 9:2). But when they returned, Jesus told them to come with Him to a quiet place to rest (Mark 6:30-31).

Unfortunately, I have seen missionaries struggle to have a balanced work ethic. Rest is not to be ignored, but it's also not to proceed our labor. It's designed to follow fruitful (sometimes difficult) work in God’s Kingdom.

Sabbath rest teaches us to have a proper view of ourselves and our work.
Because I have difficulty saying “No,” I tend to have trouble focusing on the priorities that matter and should involve a strong “Yes.” In the past, I have worn busyness as a badge of honor. As a way of saying, “Look how important I am; look how many people need me.” The fruitful work that God provides can be seen as validation of our worth and significance. But our value in God’s eyes has been settled at the Cross. God loves you and I so much that He sent His one and only Son to give His life for us (John 3:16).

It’s important to remember that any good work cannot make you more valuable in the Kingdom of God than you are right now through His grace. You are only a coworker with God and His people, no more and no less. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has made it grow.” Learning to say “No” to good activities that are not your responsibility enables you to say “Yes” to what God has called you to do and be.

Sabbath rest teaches us to trust God.
Leviticus 25 describes an interesting command given to God’s people. Every seventh year, Israel was to rest from sowing and harvesting. The land was to have a year of Sabbath rest, “a sabbath to the Lord” (Leviticus 25:4). If God could make the harvest during the sixth year sufficient for three years to follow (Leviticus 25:20-22), then don’t you think the Lord can certainly take our small efforts and multiply them as we practice Sabbath rest?

When we overestimate our importance in God’s Kingdom work, we are attempting to take the place of God. He says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Other translations say "cease striving" (NASB); "stop fighting" (ERV). When you are unwilling to be still—when you are striving and fighting with your own energy—God is saying, be still and trust me, rest in me.

Simple tips to try during your next Sabbath rest:
Peter Scazzero in his helpful book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality identifies four foundational qualities of biblical Sabbath rest:

  • STOP – Sabbath should be a day of stopping. Most of us don’t like to stop doing things we love. However, by stopping our work we are embracing our limits and recognizing that God is on the throne and we are not.

  • REST – God rested after His work of creation. We often don’t know what to do on a day of rest. Do whatever refreshes you. Take a nap, read a good book, go for a walk, watch a good movie, or enjoy a good meal.

  • DELIGHT – After God finished the work of creation, He saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Slow down and see the goodness of the world around you. We delight through play and by doing something that we enjoy as pure fun.

  • CONTEMPLATE – Think on God’s goodness. The Sabbath is to be “holy to the Lord” (Exodus 31:15). Worship God with His people. Sit in silence. Read and study the Scriptures that reveal God to you.

Jesus made it clear, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Cease striving, trust God, and start your Sabbath rest this week.

Have more questions? Let us help you.


Missions Leader Luncheon | November 5 | Nashville, TN 

Join MRN in Nashville to meet up with other mission leaders in the area and to hear what God is doing in the MedRim. These are some exciting days we are living in!

Register Here

MISSION POSSIBLE | November 15-17 | Jonesboro, AR

MRN will join Southwest Church in Jonesboro, AR to participate in MISSION POSSIBLE. This exciting weekend will encourage and enthuse you about God's mission and provide helpful tips on missionary care. The cost is only $20 and will cover your Friday evening dinner and Saturday breakfast and lunch.

To register, please text 870-340-9381.