*Adapted from Louie Giglio
For the next two Sundays, December 25th and January 1st, we will be stepping away from the normalcy of our weekend routine and into this rhythm of Sabbath:
To experience Sabbath, we must first stop.
Sabbath rest is woven into the fabric of creation, a time where we pause from all our labor and remember that God is in charge of the universe. He invites us to cease striving and unload our cares at the feet of the One who spoke the cosmos into existence.
We can release the sense of, “I’ve got to pull this off,” and remember that our Father in heaven knows what we’re made of. He knows what we can bear. And He promises to carry the load (and us) into the plans that He is already unfolding around us. He knows how hard the holidays have been for you, and He knows the road that awaits you in 2017.
So, let’s stop. Let’s put down the struggle and the busyness and interrupt our own rhythm so we can experience something new. Especially at the end of a busy Christmas season, this is a perfect time to stop. To put down lists, things left undone and simply stop.
Rest is the next part of Sabbath. In fact, before taking any steps on this journey, first, we rest.
We understand how backwards those last three little words seem, but in a way everything about the Kingdom of God is upside down. Interestingly, day one of the creation story for mankind was a rest day, not a workday. We find this account in Genesis 2:2 – 3:
By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested (Sabbath) from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested (Sabbath) from all the work of creating that He had done.
While God had placed man in the story on day six, stamped with the very image of God Himself and given the trust of stewarding earth, the first day on the job—the very beginning of man’s mission—was a day of rest. If we absorb this rhythm in the ebb and flow of our lives, we begin to realize that Sabbath rest is not what we do after a long stretch of life. Rather, Sabbath rest is how we begin each season. Before we work, we rest.
Rest doesn’t have to be a vacation. It’s more an attitude of the heart. Rest is what happens when we clear the deck and get God in full view. Over these weeks, take a nap, sleep in, walk slowly through your world, enjoy a sunset, or watch a sunrise. Do things that are not a normal part of your rhythm and routine.
While we’re resting, we remember.
Over the next couple of weeks, I hope you’ll take the time to remember His faithfulness in the past. Before we attempt great things, we must first fix our hope on the God of all creation.
Over the next two Sundays I want to encourage us all to stop. Rest. Remember.
To help you with that, you can watch week from our series The Art of Living Well where I talked about how to set your priorities for a New Year. You can watch that sermon here. You can also subscribe to our daily devotional questions. These will help you to stop, rest and remember. They will also help you as you look forward to what God has in store for you and our church in 2017. If the idea of Sabbath is new to you, let me recommend a resource that has been incredibly helpful to me, Katie and many leaders in our church: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan.
That last part of a Sabbath, one that is overlooked on a regular basis, is that of celebration. Sabbath is supposed to be a unique day, a unique season from the other days and seasons. Celebration is a great picture of Sabbath. As we stop, rest and remember as a church family, spend some time on your own, as a family, as a REVcommunity, celebrating all that God has done in the past year. Go around the table and share answered prayer requests, evidences of God’s grace, places you saw God in a powerful way in your life and in our church.
We saw God do so much in the life of our church this year as we moved to a new location at Empire High School. We saw new groups get started, new people join serving teams, and through our Christmas offering have had the opportunity to be a blessing to our city.
Move into 2017 with expectation. God has so much in store for you and for our church.
On January 8th we will be back at our normally scheduled service times of 9 and 10:30am, as my wife Katie and I will be kicking off a brand new series called Mr. and Mrs. Better Half. This is not a marriage series. This is a hope-inspiring, life-giving story about relationships. This is a story of love - love had and love hoped for. But the story is not over. The characters are still being developed. There are still chapters to be written. How to win a woman. How to keep a man. But this isn't a story about your other half or the other half you hope to have one day. Too many times in relationships we focus on what the other person is doing or not doing, or on who the other person is becoming or not becoming, instead of on who we are becoming. This is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Betterhalf. This is the story of becoming the better half.
I think this will be one of the most powerful series we’ve ever done as a church and literally could change your life or the life of a friend. So be praying and thinking about who you can bring.