Rest For the Weary Part 3: Sabbath & The Culture of Now
Well, good morning, Grace, and also good morning to those who watch via the Internet. We hope that you enjoy these messages as well. Here we are. We are in the middle of a series called Rest for the Weary, and we're looking at Sabbath and the idea of rest and the culture of now that we live in. In the last two weeks, we've been discussing how God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt. And when he did, he brought them through the Red Sea, provided them manna, took care of them and brought them to Mount Sinai.
In the Mount Sinai, they were given 10 words. They were given the 10 Commandments, and the first three dealt with their relationship with God and the last six dealt with their relationship with people. In the bridge between these two things was this fourth commandment which was to rest. And we've been talking about how we need to learn to rest as Christians, which properly means that we put God in the position he should be, and we put people in the position that they should be, and it brings us to an area of rest in our lives. And so we've been looking at that for the last two weeks. If you're new, all of our messages are online. I would just ask you kindly, if you enjoy today's message, to pick those other two up, because it might give some perspective as to what we're doing today.
Today's message is going to be fantastic. This is as excited I've been to preach a message in a long time, and I hope that this makes a whole lot of sense to you. First thing I want to say this morning is this, and we're going to come back to this at the end of the message, so I want you to hold this thought in your head as we work through some of the things of Scripture today. The idea of rest, rest itself, okay. When we think of rest, maybe vacation, taking a nap, some of you are going, "I'm getting ready to do that right now while you're preaching," all that good stuff. You're supposed to laugh, that was supposed to be funny, but it wasn't I guess.
So anyway, rest is a biblical concept where life becomes fully functional. What we think of rest is, like I said, taking a vacation or taking a nap. The biblical idea of rest is where life, our life, your and I's life, becomes fully functional. And that's what we all want to some degree. There wouldn't be so many books on self-help in the Barnes & Nobles and online, there wouldn't be all the videos that you can watch, the conferences that you can go to, the life coaches that you can get, and none of those things are necessarily bad in and of themselves because we're really looking life, but as Christians, we believe that ultimately life comes from a relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ.
And so the idea of rest in the Bible, and we're going to talk about this all morning long, I want to come back to this at the end, is that it's a place where our life is an abundant life and everything is sort of working in the place that it needs to go. The corollary of that would be true as well, that where there is disorder and chaos in our life, it doesn't allow for us to have the abundant life that we want. And we all know that by nature. I mean, when you're struggling with your wife at home or your husband at home, or you're struggling with your kids, or you're struggling at work, it's hard to have abundant life. We all understand that. We get that in principle.
But here's the thing. This idea of rest, everything we've been talking about in the Old Testament, at Sinai, the 10 Commandments and all of that, every time God mentions rest, he's always referring back to creation, Genesis 1. And so for us to really understand, we've been talking about it, we've been embracing it, but to fully understand what rest is all about, we're going to have to go back to Genesis and figure out what God was doing on Day 7 when he was resting.
Now if I were to redo a Bible, and I'm not going to, but I were to redo a Bible, the Genesis 1 would not end in Genesis 1, at the end of Chapter 1. It would actually end in Chapter 2 verse 3, and then Chapter 2 would start in verse 4, because chapter 2:1-3 is a summary of what has happened in Genesis 1. And here's what the Bible says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, all the host of them, and on the seventh day, God finished his work that he had done. And he rested on the seventh day from all of his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, God rested from all of his work that he had done in creation."
Now here's the struggle that we have. Most Protestants, most Christians, don't really know what to do with Day 7, because we're like, "Okay, did God work like you and me out in the garden and get hot and sweaty and he sort of wore himself out? So did he take a nap on Day 7? Was he tired? What's Day 7?" And most Christians go, "What do we do at Day 7? Do we argue about whether it should Saturday or Sunday? What do we do?" It's like we don't even know what to do with Day 7. And what I'm going to submit to you, by the end of this message, you're going to hopefully agree with me that Day 7 is the most important day of the creation narrative. And maybe we're not reading it the way that we should be reading it. Maybe we're reading it wrong.
And so what I'd like to submit to you is another way to view it. You're welcome to disagree with me. That's the beauty of Grace Community Church. We agree on some very, very, very fundamental things, but some of the other stuff, we give wide range of interpretive understanding. But here's the deal, I think I can show you something that will help you, and I think if we can understand what's going on in Genesis 1, it will change our lives when it comes to understanding rest.
Here's the problem with working with an ancient text, and I need you to listen to this. This is a little bit of hard work upfront. So imagine that you're going to put your hard hat on and get your pick ax out. We're going to do a little bit of work here. It'll be a little heady to just get to where we need to go, but you need to really follow with me here because this is huge.
God could have chosen any way to speak to you and me. He could have done whatever he wanted to do, but he chose 66 books that were written by people to speak to you and me. And here's the issue with that that we need to understand. When the author wrote that text, he wrote to a specific group of people at that time. Every book in the Bible is that way. Even when you get the New Testament, if Paul is writing to the Ephesians church, he's writing to the Ephesians church. He's writing to Colossians church, he's writing to the Colossians church. And they have stuff going on at their time, at their place that they're writing to. So in one way, and I know this is hard for all of us to understand, the Bible was not written to you and me. The Bible was written for you and me, but it wasn't written to you and me.
And so until we can understand what the author was saying to that original group, we're going to have a difficult time making application today. And so it's real easy for us to take our terms and our conceptions and read it into the Bible but not ask what did the author really mean? On top of that, the Bible uses what we call high communication, which is the opposite of low communication. And I'm going to explain how that works.
So follow me along here. Those listening in the Internet, listen to this. I'm going to give you some high communication. This Sunday, the Cowboys are going to march north to the frozen tundra to take on the Cheeseheads. Some of you go, "I know what you are taking about, man." Some of you are like, "What is he talking about?" Okay, I just used high communication. I assumed that you knew some things so that you would know what I was saying. But some of you are going, "I don't know what you said."
Well, I'm going to use now low communication. In America, which is, here's the globe, in America, this is America, there's a place called Texas. And here's Texas. And in Texas, there's a city. And what a city is, a city is a place where people gather. They could gather at other places, but they gathered here. And in that city, there is the Dallas Cowboys, which are an NFL team, which is the National Football League. And now let me tell you about football. Football is where they take a pigskin ball. And I could go through all that, touchdowns and field goals and all that. And so this team, the Dallas Cowboys, who's an NFL football team, they're going to fly north to take on the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and they're called the Cheeseheads. And so the Cheeseheads play at Lambeau Field. And Lambeau Field is a place where they call the 'frozen tundra' because a lot of times, it's really cold in Green Bay, Wisconsin. So now you just heard high communication and you've heard low communication.
The Bible is written in high communication. It's written to people that understand what is being said. Unfortunately, you and me are not insiders. When we go to the text, we're outsiders, which means we have to do some work at times to figure out what's going on in the text.
And on top of that, their world views are different than ours. We have different thoughts. We know different things about our world today that they never knew, that they wouldn't even conceptualize. So it's so easy to think we know what's going on, to think that we understand what they're saying, and then to read our world view into the text.
Now I'm going to show something. Here's your world view. Here's my world view. Look up here at the picture on the screen, and you'll see it. This is called the blue sky model. Okay, the blue sky is pretty clear. You look at that, you, "I know what that is. That's the Earth. That's the globe." We go, "Yeah, everybody in here knows that." Nobody has a question about that.
You can go back just a few hundred years and you could find people going, "There's no way that's the world because the world's flat," because they had a different world view at the time, a different understanding. We look at this and go, "Yeah, there's Mexico and there's Florida." We get that. Okay. So when we think of the heavens and the earth, and we think of the globe, and we think of the world, that's what we think of. Everybody understands that.
But if you were to go back to the ancient Near East, which is what we're getting ready to read out of Genesis, and we're going back thousands of years, their cosmology, their understanding of the world, get ready, look up on the screen, this is the way they viewed the world. Whoa! Way different than you and me. So when you're reading Genesis, this is their cosmology. Not the cosmology that you and I have.
Here's the way they did it. They looked up. You can imagine. If you go back thousands of years, you go, let's see. I look up at the sky. It's blue. And rain comes from up there. So that must be water. And everybody said, "Yeah, that's water." So when you read the firmament above, Moses telling you there's water up there. Not telling you the sky like you and I read it, because they didn't understand that back then. That wasn't their world view. That wasn't their understanding. So they saw it differently. Like shale [SP]. If you read the Old Testament, even David's like, "Shale's after me." They thought for the longest time that if you served God, you were blessed in this world, and then everybody went to the same place, shale.
But as the Bible continues to tell us more and more about God, we start to understand the idea of resurrection. And when resurrection starts to happen, we start to interpret things in the Bible a little bit differently in the Old Testament because now we have a different paradigm. And so the Old Testament, when you read the columns of the earth holding it up, they really believed there were columns of the Earth holding it up. They really believed there were flood gates up above. And when God wanted to flood the world, he just went, ffm. And all the water came dousing in. That's what they thought. And so if you're going to gel with the Old Testament, you got to get in their world, not import your world into their world. So now we can start. We can take a breath, and go, "Okay, let's start."
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, because we got to figure out what rest is. We just read rest. We read that was the ending of this creation narrative. So what does it mean? So when I say, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," most people, as a general rule go, "I know what that means. I got it. I know exactly what that means." But let's pause for a minute and start asking some questions, because I think this is important that we ask these questions.
When God says, "the beginning," when Moses writes, "the beginning," I'm going to ask you a question here, beginning of what? You say, "What? Really, like the world, right?" Is it the beginning of God? Is it the beginning of time? Is it the beginning of matter? Are we getting to read the creation of matter, or are we reading something different? Are we reading the beginning, like the beginning beginning, like the Big Bang, which they would have never even know anything about? Are we reading something different? Are we reading that we heard the word beginning a creative activity before the seven days, so the real beginning, like the beginning, beginning of beginnings? Or when they used beginning, are they talking about something where they're introducing and summarizing what you're getting ready to be told? So the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, not the beginning beginning of the beginning, but the beginning of when God started to do what it was that he was doing.
And see, these are questions we don't ask because we just naturally assume beginning is the beginning of the beginning of the beginning, when in Hebrew concepts, you go Job 8:7, when Job talks about the beginning of his youth, or you read in Jeremiah 28, when Zedekiah begins his ascension to the throne, we're not talking about the beginning beginning. We're talking about an initial period of time that's introducing what is getting ready to be told us. Which then comes the question if the beginning is not the beginning of the beginning, but the beginning as an introduction to a period of time, then what does it mean that God created?
What he create? Okay, so now when we're reading creation where he's like, there's no Perrier can. Perrier can! That's ontological creation. That means you're creating objects. Or is the word bara, which is Hebrew for "create," does that mean order and function? See when David says, "Create in me a clean heart, bara," he's not saying, "Yank the one out that I got and put one in there that wasn't there." He's like, "No, order it."
So in the beginning, not the beginning beginning, but when God started to do this initial period of creation, was he ordering a world or was he creating something that wasn't there ontologically? And then on top of that, in the beginning, when he created, what about the heavens and the earth? Is it our understanding of the heavens and the earth? Or did they have an understanding of the heavens and the earth that we don't have, that they would have understood what the beginning of creation and heavens and earth were?
See, in their world, they all knew these things. And archaeology has been great because in the last 150 years, we have come in contact with hundreds and hundreds of ancient writings. And here's the cool thing about it. We now know what those cultures taught about origins. They were not concerned with objects. They were concerned with function.
And so when you read the Egyptian stories or the Akkadian stories or the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Atrahasis or the Enuma Elish, which we all these excellent copies, they all are saying sort of the same thing. Now they disagree in the way they order stuff, but they are sort of saying the same thing. High communication. So like an Israelite could have read an Egyptian creation story and would have understood sort of what was going on, but their stories would have been different. Because in their stories, their temple narrative stories, here's the way they did it. They would say, "There are all these gods," because they believed in multiple gods. All these gods were fighting and one of them won.
You've been to Red Lobster, and you got these lobsters that are in there. They put the rubber band on them, so that they can't fight each other. You ever get a lobster at the place that's only got like one claw. It's like, "Hey, could you bring me back a winner?"
So these gods are fighting against each other. They're going at it. They're fighting. And so when they finally get done fighting and one emerges, then this god has to take on the god of chaos. Well, the god of chaos is in the water. And so this god has to subdue the god of chaos. And when he does, it's a she, he fillets her open and he puts water up on top and water here and creates space in between. And then, now that the world that they've subdued after they've kicked all these other gods' rear ends and now subdued chaos, now they start putting things together so that it works and it's orderly and functioning. And finally, on the seventh day of these stories, these gods now have their temple, which is what they call heavens and the earth. Everything is put in place. And these gods in these stories would put their image, which is a piece of a wood or a stone, in their temple. And then they would rest. Not rest like take a nap, but rest as if everything was now ordered and things could get going to business.
So when we read the creation narrative Genesis, we're reading stories in high communication that everybody would have known but it's a way different twist. The twist is, there's not a lot of gods. There's one. His name is Yahweh. One god.
And there's no god of chaos, at all. In fact when God comes up on the world, the Earth is without form and void. In the beginning, not the beginning, beginning, beginning, but the in beginning when God starts to order the heavens and the earth, his temple, the earth is broken. It has no form. It has its void. And darkness is over the face of the deep.
They would have known these stories, but the stories aren't the stories that they would have known because they would have thought multiple gods. So you're rewriting this. This is taking on a whole different form. What you're saying is one god created. And then when he creates and he orders creation as the spirit of God hovers over the face of the waters and he starts to do his creation, not creation, not there, there, creation in terms of function.
Like if I were to say, "Okay, here's a piece of music that doesn't work." And I gave it to John, our music minister, and said, "John, can you create this so that it works?" See, that works different than if I say, "Hey, John, we don't have a piece of music at all. Could you create me a piece of music?"
The creation here is a functional creation. And so God comes and starts to hover over the face of the waters. And as he orders this world, on the seventh day, he rests. But before he rests, he puts his image and his likeliness into the cosmic temple, which is people. Now all of a sudden, people have value and worth. They're not just commodities. They're not just whatever. They have value. God has ordered the world for people to be able to do what he's asked them to do, and he rests on the seventh day because everything is in its proper place.
It's like I go and play Monopoly at my house. You can't just pull the board game out of the closet and start playing. You're not at rest at that moment. You got to open up the game. You got to pull out the board. You got to put all the pieces around and all the cards. And if you're like me, you all do like me, you put a little money in your pocket when nobody's looking. Right? Probably, I'm the only sinner in the room. That's fine. Pray for your pastor. So put the money in your pocket. Well, you got to do that, right? It's part of the game. So anyway, but see, once you get everything set up and the money in your pocket, when everything's good, you're at rest, biblically. Now you can start to function.
So the Earth's without form and void, and God starts to create. He starts to form. He starts to function. He starts to order. And let's look at how he does this because it's important, because nothing has functioned at this particular moment. Look at how he puts it together. God says, "Let there be light." We go, "Great." Okay. So where's the sun? Well, the sun's not created until day four. Hold on. "Let there be light." And there was light. God saw the light was good. Okay, well, does it matter, would it matter if you knew that in Egypt, the god that was the god above all the gods, was the god Ra, the god of the sun.
Moses in Sinai, slide of hands, said yeah, the sun's day four. You Egyptians, day four. So anyway, God says, "Let there be light." God saw the light was good. Let's continue on here. This is important. Follow me here. And God separated the light from darkness. You can't separate light from darkness. You either have light or you have darkness. So separation here is not like separation. It's ordering something. It's creating function. And we see this. God separated light from darkness and he called the light 'day'. You don't call light 'day'. You call light 'light'. Right? Light's not day. Light's light. But light's day here. And darkness which is darkness is not darkness here. It's night.
God is ordering something here. He's ordering time, because you see in the next verse, "And there was evening and there was morning the first day." God has now ordered time. And he continues to order throughout this chapter. Day one, he does the light and dark thing. But on day 4, he creates the functionaries that actually perform, but he doesn't talk about them in terms of objects. He talks about them in terms of function. The sun and the moon give seasonal stuff so that the world is ordered in a certain way.
Second day he creates space. Where there was only water, he opens up the water above and the water below and creates space. Now there's space to live, and the birds are flying around, and everything is sort of in its place. And then the water and the land are separated, and now he can put humanity there. And so he puts all these together. He takes something that has no form and is void, and over these days, he creates it functionally. He creates it orderly so that he can rest. Not take a nap, not because he's tired, but everything now works.
So, see, Genesis 1 is written in the cosmology of the day, the way they understood the world, not the way we understand the world. With high communication, with these ancient Near Eastern temple creation stories, is the backdrop. So, and this is awesome. Now we can go back and read the summary. Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished. They were completed. They were ready to function, all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God finished the work that he had done.
Jesus tells this to John that the Father has been working since the beginning. So it wasn't that he ceased from working. It was that now his work was ready to be done. It'd be like going on a camping trip. You have a motor home. I don't know why anybody would buy a motor home to be honest with you because by time you spend like 80,000, how many hotels could you stay to buy that thing? This is a conversation between me and my dad have all the time because my dad has a motor home. But anyway that's a whole another issue for another day. But anyway, you got motor home, and your tires are flat. Your refrigerator doesn't work. The engine doesn't start. You're broken. That's pretty typical. Somebody said typical. That's exactly right. That's God bless you. I feel that one, sister. The anointing was all on that one.
So your motor home is not at rest. But see, when your motor home's engine's on, and the refrigerator's packed, and everything's in there, and all your stuff's ready to go, and everything's there, air conditioning's on, you're ready to go on a trip. You're at rest biblically. You're not at rest because you're sleeping or you're taking a break, you're at rest because now you're ready to accomplish the things you need to accomplish.
So he's finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. And so that's huge. Listen to this, the huge, "So God blessed the seventh day. He said, "This is a good day."" Why? Because this day is now working. Not the day. It's the function of the day. Everything's ready to go. And he made it holy. What's holy? We know when holy when we read Pentateuch. Pentateuch's two Greek words, scrolls, five scrolls. That's all that means. First five books of Moses. In Leviticus 19, we hear that God is holy, so be holy like God. And if you read the rest of the chapter, it's all about the way we relate to people. Honor your father and mother, loving your neighbor, loving this person, loving that person, not taking advantage of that person. Holiness is relational.
So here we have, in the 10 Commandments, we have the relationship between God and the relationship between people. And on the seventh day, we have a day that is blessed because everything is right with God in the world, and it's holy because now it can be relational because it is functioning properly. Because of it, God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Done. He rested.
Not that he took a nap. Not that he took a vacation. Not that he just took a day off. He was at rest, because things worked now. Things were ordered now. So in the ancient Near East, if we're listening to authorial intent, if we're listening to high communication, if we're paying attention to world views, rest is what results when a crisis has been resolved.
Now let's land the plane. You can take your hats off. Take your pick axes up, and listen to me because this is where we're going to land the plane. This is where it matters to you and me. Normal routines, when you and I are at rest can be established and enjoyed.
See, God wants you and me to have life. He wants us to have abundant life. He wants us to have life where our relationships with him and our relationships with others are functioning. See, what happens is we look at our lives and we go, "Well, me and my wife are fighting all the time." Or "Me and my husband are fighting all the time." Or "I can't get my kids to do this." Or "My boss is this way." Or "At work, it's this way." Or "At church, I got these problems, and I don't like this," and whatever. You and me, in those moments, we're not resting. We're in chaos. And you can't have life in chaos. You can only have life when you are at rest. And rest is telling you and me that we can have things that we can enjoy, things that we can actually have function in our life.
And that's what God wants for all. You may show up today. You may have wondered why you showed up. "Man, I don't know why I showed at up this church." Because God wants to tell you that he loves you. He knows everything you've done, he still loves you. And what he wants to do is he wants to give you and me a life of rest. He wants to move us from chaos to rest. He wants in our life to give us a life that works, that's functional, that matters, that people could look at it and say, "I want that," that go there is a difference in Christians.
Because God does something that nobody else can do. He puts lives together. He puts order in life. He puts function in life where things can be established and enjoyed. But instead, what we've done is, is rather than rest being engagement without obstacles to the world, we've made rest something where we disengage without any responsibilities.
"I'm going to rest, take a break. Get a nap. God wants me to take a nap. He wants me to rest." That's not understanding what Genesis is saying to you and me. Genesis is saying is that the rest of God is where things are so together that things can actually work. God wants you and me to be engaged in life, and he wants us to be engaged where we have life, not brokenness all around us. He wants us to have engagement without the obstacles, and that's called rest. And the only way that happens is when we are right with God first. And we also have a relationship with people that are right. It's the only way.
We try so hard. And here's the rub, and I don't want to get on anybody's toes. I'm not trying to make you feel bad. Here's the problem. We talk about our relationship with God, and we say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, God. He's God and he's whatever." But the fact of the matter is so often in our lives, God is our savior, and we love God being our savior. "So yeah, man, he's forgiven me. All that good stuff, man. He's awesome. He loves me. All that stuff." But God's like, "Yeah, but I also am Lord. And if you want to have life, you have to put me first." First commandment, no other gods before me.
And see, all of our gods that we had and we all have them to some degree, they come out of our restlessness and our anxiety. That's where addiction comes from. That's where brokenness comes from. That's where problems come from. Because we create the golden calves, rather than putting God first. And then we try to pull God into our culture and make God sort of like our culture. And "Yeah, man, he loves us more than everybody else because of our culture." And God's going, "No, you can't bring me down there. You can't make graven images out of me. You can't bring me into your culture. You can't bring me into your world. I got to be in the proper place. And if you're going to really going to follow me and take my name, you need to live up what it looks like to be a follower of Yahweh."
And all that is in rest. And then you treat people with respect. You honor your mothers and fathers, and you don't grab somebody's wife, and you don't covet. And you don't lie. And you don't kill. You don't do those things, because you're right with God and out of your rightness with God and because you're there with God, you're able to then do what God has called us to do, but unfortunately, we're sort of broken even in these areas.
I'll give you an example. You're Amos, and you know prophets. I mean, whenever you read out of the prophets, just get ready for the rodeo because it's like sandpaper on the skin. So I'm sorry, I can't make this go down any easier. It's like those big pills that you take when you're sick. Can I just have a small one? No, here's a big pill.
So here's what Amos says. He says, "Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end saying when will the new moon be over that we may sell grain?" See, these people are going to church. They're doing the religious thing. They're checking it off. But all they can think about is, "I got to earn a living. I mean, I got bills to pay. I got to sell some grain. I got stuff to do. Yeah, God, I'm doing your thing. I'm sort of here doing my thing. But what I'm really focused on is me." And so, "Hey, God, great idea. I showed up for the new moon and I did this stuff. I did the religious stuff, but I got some grain and so you think you can bring the rain so that I can have this stuff. And, hey, if you can bring some people to buy my stuff." See, all of a sudden, that relationship with God isn't really where it's at. It's not at rest. It's broken. It's chaos. It's disorder. Because we're trying to get God on our train, and the only place that's proper and right is when we're on his train.
It goes on to say, and the Sabbath that we may offer wheat for sale. See, Amos is telling them, "Guys, you're doing the religious things. You're checking them off. But you're missing the whole thing because ultimately it's all about you. All you can do is think about what it is that you need: what it is that you want, what it is that your bills are, what it is that you're selling does. And you're missing out. Yes, you're doing the religious thing, but you're not resting with God."
And the fact of the matter is, is that we can't have rest when what we want comes before God. I'm guilty, too. It's not like I'm not guilty. You say, "Well, pastors aren't supposed to be guilty." Whatever pastor told you that they shouldn't, that they don't make mistakes or don't do this stuff is not being very honest with you. I'm telling you, I struggle, too. And the better part is I have to do this three times on the weekend. You only have to listen to it once. And now they're trying to cram four on me. How about that?
So we can't have rest when what we want comes before God, and we all have these areas in our lives. We just do. And those areas create chaos and disorder, and they don't lead us to life. On top of that, we also got to have proper relationship with people. This is what pause is. Do nothing.
That doesn't mean like sometimes, "All right, Bennett, if you can get this 50% of the time right, you're good. Now do nothing for selfish ambition." "Ho-ho! God. I mean, I got stuff that's important to me. I mean, let's have a moment." "No, Bennett, I want you to do nothing from selfish ambition. You want to live life? You want to have full life? You want to have abundant life? Don't do what you think is right, which leads to death. Do what I've asked to do, which leads to life. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit." "Hah! Hold on, God. Let's have a minute here. I mean, I got ... you know where this is leading me here. This is not a good place. I fell out of order here. I'm putting another people..."
Yeah, because the next thing is, "But in humility, count others more significant than yourselves." Oh, yeah, whoa! Time out. That's just part of the Bible that I'm not going to read this morning. And I've always said I can make a lot of money if I could create Chip's Velcro Bible. And the Velcro Bible is you can just pull out the passages that you don't like. And then if you don't really like it, you can rearrange them so they fit your context the way you like it. I think the Velcro Bible would sell well in America. We'd like that thing. He says, "Whoa, whoa. Hold on." It doesn't say here that they're better than you. It says count others more significant than yourselves. "I'm not living that way. I'm not doing that. I got grain to sell, and I got stuff to do."
And what I'm going to tell you is that's why our lives are not abundant, because we've not learned, all of us collectively, have not learned to let God take us from our formlessness and voidness to a place of rest where things are in order. And now we can engage because we've got things in their proper spot.
God is God, and we put him first. And because of that, we're going to treat people the way he wants us to treat people. I must tell you this right now. If you've got some broken relationships in your lives, that is a sign that your relationship with God is not where it really should be probably, because the Bible says, "How can you say you love God whom you can't see if you can't love your brother whom you can see?"
And see, this is tough because Paul goes on to say here, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests but to the interest of others." And what God is saying is this, "Listen, this is exactly what I want you to understand. If you put me where I need to be, I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to give you daily manna. I'm going to take care of you."
Notice that it's not like monthly bread or yearly bread. That's what we like, right, as Americans. We want to store it all up. God says, "No, pray daily bread. Trust me daily." And on Sabbath Day, what do you do? You gave him extra on the sixth day. Every day if they took extra, it rotted. But on Sabbath Day, he said, "Celebrate."
So we got it backwards here. What we do is we come to church and try to do the celebration, and then we run off for six days doing our own thing trying to put everything together and run around and chaos and disorder and all the stuff.
And what God is saying is, "No, why don't you take the take six days, and why don't you work on putting me in the proper place, and people in the proper place, and do what I've called you to do, and then when you come in and worship, why don't you celebrate what I've done in your life, and the order and function that I placed in your life?"
So, we can't have rest when what we want comes before treating others properly. We see it all the time. You see it in marriages. People go, "Well, if my wife could just get her stuff together." "If my husband could just get..." See, you got it backwards. You're looking at self rather than saying what can I give? How can I serve? How can I trust God to do the miracle? We don't. We don't. Let's be honest. We don't, most of the time. But God is saying, "I want you to. I want you to bring it to me," which brings us back to where we started.
Rest, in the biblical concept, is where life becomes fully functional. And that's what God wants for you and me. He wants us to live lives that matter, live lives that are significant, live lives that people can look at and say, "I want what they have." The Matthew 5:16, let people see, let your light shine so that people may see the good works that they may glorify your father which is in heaven. In other words, they see stuff in you that makes them want to go to God.
Rest is a biblical concept where our lives become functional. But the corollary is true. Disorder and chaos don't allow for life. And we know that. We know the areas. We've got broken areas in our lives, and they keep us up at night. We can't sleep. We don't know what to do because they're broken.
And God says, "What I want to do is I want to give you rest. But rest only comes from when you put me in the proper spot and then treat others the way I've asked you to treat them. That's rest because now you can function."
And so the prayer or the question I would ask you to pray with me this morning is this: God, where do I put myself before you? Where is it God? We all have it, every one of us. God, where is that I put myself before you? And where do I put myself before others. Help me, Lord, to figure this out.
Last night, we met as we do every Saturday night, 15 minutes before service with the worship team, and we have a little devotion and prayer. And Allen Reeser [SP], he's a very close friend of mine, and Allen and Linda are in church service today. I asked Allen if he would lead us in a devotion. What I didn't realize is that God was giving me the ending of my message. It took me a day. I'm like half-pagan, so it took me a day and realize that. I didn't realize it last night. So last night, they didn't get this.
This morning, I was like, "Man, what a dummy I am. God was like just giving me exactly how to land the plane at the end of the sermon, and I didn't even hear it." So don't feel bad, like when you go, "Man, sometimes I don't get everything." Don't worry. I don't get it either sometimes, so we're all good.
Hey, but here's the deal. Allen travels. He goes to Ghana, to India, China, and all this stuff. And he was talking about how when you're in traffic, the only way for traffic to flow right is for us to learn to yield. See, here in America, we have all kinds of accidents because everybody's in the air conditioned cars, not paying attention to anything, playing on their phones, doing the individualistic thing, and people crashing, knocking down everybody doing all stuff, because we're not paying attention and we're not yielding. Third world countries, they're bumper to bumper, inches away. Windows down, everybody smelling the exhaust, everybody is paying attention to what's going on, and everything's moving and going, and we get in there and go, "What is going on?" Because they've learned to yield. The reason it's working is because they're yielding.
And where we got to learn in our life to yield is first to God. First learn to yield, to let God be God. You may have walked in here today and go, "I don't even know why I showed up here. Somebody pulled me in here. Somebody dragged me in here. I don't even know what's going on. Cosmology, what the world is that? Is that something where they work on people's hair or something?" But right now you're going, "But man, something's... " God's telling you is that he loves you. And he wants to be right with you. He wants you to be right with him. But it takes us to yield, and then with others in the body, and other people in the church.
We have to learn to yield. We have to learn to pause for a minute. For things to flow right, we have to learn to yield, and it starts with this question: God, where do I put myself before you because I've got to yield for a moment? And where do I put myself before others because I've got to yield for a moment?
Because what I want, God, is I want that Day 7 rest. I don't want Genesis 1:2. I don't want formless and void in my life. I want Day 7 rest. I want to be able to function. I want to have a marriage that works. I want to have relationships with my kids that work. I want to have relationships with people that work. I want to be used by you to lead people into your kingdom. I want to be a person of rest. I want to engage without all the dysfunction of stuff because I put you where you need to be, and I'm treating people the way you want me to treat them. Let's pray.
Dear heavenly father, I come to you this morning. I thank you for every single person that's here at Grace. I thank you for what you're doing in the life of this church and the life of us. Lord, this is a very important message for us to hear because this is a message that's the difference between running around and striving in anxiety and restlessness and doing everything in our own power, or it's a moment where we can yield. And maybe we've not yielded in a long, long time. That's a point there where we can yield to you and yield to others, trust in you, that your way leads to life. So, Lord, I'm asking you in Jesus's name for your glory and your honor, for us to take a moment right now and ask God to search my heart, where in my life am I putting myself before you?
And church, as you pray that prayer, God's not up in heaven looking down at you trying to beat you up or give you a hard time for that. He's saying, "Thank you for being honest. Now we can work on this. Tell me what you're doing. I already know what you're doing, but tell me, and I'll work with you." That's what God's going to say to you. He's not going to tell you that you're bad or you're no good. He's going to say, "Yes, confess that, and let's work on it because I want to make you whole."
So God show me in my life where I put myself before you. And then, Lord, show me in my life where I put others and last place, myself first. And help me, Lord, to love enemies, to bless those that persecute me, to reach out to those who've slap me, to reach out to those who've hurt me, because that's what you did for me. And when I put you in the proper place, I realized that's the way I'm supposed to live. And God, that's what I want to do. I want to be a person of rest. I want to have a life that functions.
So, Lord, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for what you're doing in our lives. And we ask, Lord, that in Jesus's name, that you would go with us as we walk out of here, help us to take this message this week, and to really think about it. And, Lord, to be a church that truly looks like you, that puts you first and treats others with dignity and respect. Help us to continue to be able to be a light. Go with us as we leave. Watch over us and protect us and bring us back safely till when we meet again. In Jesus's name and everybody said, "Amen."