Sabbath Rhythms

May 12, 2019

David Sorn

What does the Bible actually say about the Sabbath? Is it still helpful or necessary for modern-day Christians?

Sabbath Rhythms

May 12, 2019

David Sorn

What does the Bible actually say about the Sabbath? Is it still helpful or necessary for modern-day Christians?


Happy Mother’s Day

We’ve got a lot going on around here.

I’m so pumped that sign-ups for our FIVE Renovation U classes start today.

I really want you to get in a class this summer so you can learn more about God and the Bible.

This is going to help you a lot!

You’ll find out more about this during announcements.

Also, make sure you’re back here next week…because we are going to be revealing the pastor and location of our FIFTH church plant, which starts this Fall.

We start autonomous churches out of our church (they’re their own church, own name, everything)

But we train them how to start it, give some of our people, and funding too.

Why in the world would we do that?

Because we believe our mission is to build the Kingdom of GOD, not the Kingdom of Renovation.

The pastor of our new church will be here next week for the big announcement as well!

All right, 10-15 years ago, I wouldn’t have dared given a message on today’s topic…setting up boundaries for rest

When I was 22, I went to school full time at graduate school in seminary, and worked 25-30 hours a week on top of that.

And then when it came time to start this church 9 years ago (when I was 27)…I worked…like never before (this was important stuff!)

As we got closer and closer to our Grand Opening in October of 2009, there was more and more to do.

I remember I worked a 75-hour weeks…13 weeks in a row.

Without a day off.

And I was just a few months into our church, and already about to burn out.

Thankfully, I learned from some wise people that had gone before me, and I began to actually take a day off.

And I’m confident, that if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made it more than 1 or 2 years into this church.

This morning, as we are in week 3 of our Exhausted series, I want to talk about how we can plan out our rest…

How we can create boundaries and find rhythms of rest.

In the past, Christians used to do this by taking a Sabbath.

Now, some of you in this room, you know exactly what the sabbath is.

You grew up with it.

But for many in this room, especially those under 30, we are becoming so far removed from those days, that you might not even be familiar with the word, sabbath.

The sabbath was a command in the Old Testament to take one day a week to not work, but to rest.

For Jews, which were God’s people in the Old Testament (Jesus was a Jew)…

The Sabbath occurred from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday

Saturday was also the day (and still is) that Jews went to worship God at their local synagogue

After Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, Christians began to worship on Sundays instead of Saturdays.

And then, although the New Testament makes no specific mandate of this, Christians also began to sabbath (that is to rest and not work) on Sundays as well.

For much of Christian history, the sabbath was an important part of being a believer.

Many of us grew up on the very tail end of this.

I can remember when I was about 7 or 8 and the Ben Franklin Store in town announced that they were going to be open on Sundays, and the town collectively gasped.

But now, not much is left of those days.

But 100 years ago, Christians went to church on Sunday mornings, potlucked for lunch, rested in the afternoon, did NO activities that resembled any kind of work all day, and then went to church AGAIN on Sunday nights.

It was a DAY of rest and worship.


Now, historically, that’s interesting, but we must always ask, “What does the Bible say?”

The Bible is our guide…not America 75 years ago…or America today.

Believe it or not, observing the sabbath is actually one of the 10 Commandments.

Christians certainly still observe the other 9 (don’t make an idol, don’t commit adultery, do not kill)

But even though many Christians adore the 10 commandments, MOST, in 2019, don’t observe the 4th commandment: Keep the sabbath.

Let’s look at the actual commandment:

(Exodus 20:8-11) – NIV

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Now, some people end the discussion right there.

And they say, “There it is…it’s in the 10 commandments…stop working on Sundays…heathen!”

Although, if they want to be consistent, they should technically say, “From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday” J

But we don’t just have the Old Testament, right?

We have the New Testament.

And much of the Old Testament law and rules are fulfilled in Jesus.

For example, the Old Testament tells believers to sacrifice animals when they worship.

When was the last time you saw me slaughter a lamb on a Sunday?

Been at least 3 weeks.

No, we don’t do that anymore because…Jesus was our lamb…our final sacrifice.

The Old Testament tells believers to only eat certain foods (avoid pork, etc.)…

But Jesus (in the NT), made all foods clean

The Old Testament tells believers we must have a priest to help bring us closer to God…to mediate on our behalf

But Jesus is now our HIGH we don’t need that anymore.

In so many ways, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

This is actually a pretty tricky thing to understand when you first start studying the Bible.

If you want to know more, head to the messages page on our website, and by using our new search feature, search for Exodus 23, and you’ll find a message called, “The Bible Says That?!”

And you can find an entire message on this.

And the reason I bring this up is because many Christians say that Jesus, just like those other examples I mentioned, is the “FULFILLMENT of the Sabbath”

He is our rest.

And thus, they would say, we don’t need a specific day on Saturday or Sunday anymore…we just need to find rest in Jesus.

The writings of Paul in the New Testament seem to lean this way as well:

(Colossians 2:16-17) – NIV

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

It seems like Paul is saying that things like the Sabbath were put in place (like a shadow) to point to a greater rest that would come in the person of Jesus Christ.

In a passage that you could look up this week, in Romans 14, Paul seems to say a really similar thing,

If you read through the life of Jesus, you’ll see that He’s constantly challenging the religious establishment of the day regarding how they observe the Sabbath.

They had turned the Sabbath into a way to “earn God’s favor” by keeping rules

And their rules were ridiculous

You couldn’t walk farther than ¾ of a mile…or you were sinning by working

You couldn’t draw water into a cup? Sinning.

I see you sinners holding your coffee J

You couldn’t’ start a fire…or ride an animal…working.

They made up all of these rules that weren’t in the Bible.

And Jesus challenges them saying, “So you’re not going to help your child out of a well if they fall in on the sabbath?”

What’s wrong with you guys?

And he’s constantly challenging them for missing the point.

And then Jesus says this fascinating phrase:

(Mark 2:27b) – NIV

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The sabbath was put in place to be a blessing to humankind, it’s not a command placed on you as a burden

And so you have to ask yourself:

Why would Jesus say, “The Sabbath was made for you…to be a gift to you…” if His real intention was, “But don’t observe the sabbath anymore”

Are you feeling confused?

I kind of hope you are. J

The vast majority of instructions in the Bible for how we are to live are pretty cut and dry.

There’s no grey area.

But this is a tough one:

Should Christians observe the sabbath?

Well, there are a lot of Christians who would say, “Yes, absolutely”

And there are also a lot of Christians who would say, “Not technically, but the principle of it remains…find your rest in Jesus”

And then there’s a whole lot of Christians (this is where most of you are…and you’re wrong by the way)…

Most Christians say, “Yeah, sabbath, sounds nice…ain’t nobody got time for that”

So how do we do this if it’s not completely clear on what we should do?

What do we do when we find these places in the Bible, where there are “two or three schools of thought on it?”

This is one of the times where you want to go to the Bible, maybe study it more yourself, and then say, “God what does this mean for my life?”

“How can I bring the sabbath into my life??”


And…I think there are a few principles that I think we can all agree on.

Here’s one: Most of us are exhausted.

If any culture has ever needed something like a sabbath, isn’t it us??

While there are certainly cultures before us that have worked longer hours than us…

There hasn’t ever been a culture as “hurried” as us

There hasn’t been a culture that runs at such a frenetic pace…without ever taking a break.

A sabbath if you will.


And it’s a problem.

In his well-written book, “The Rest of God,” Mark Buchanan tells a story about his wife’s grandma Alice, who lived in British Columbia…in an area the gold rush once took over

Well one day, Grandma Alice was out polishing a large stone in her garden.

See, it was too big for her to move, so she decided to get some sandpaper, and polish it so it would become a smooth and beautiful part of her garden

While she was sanding it, she began to notice a thin sifting of gold on the stone.

Her heart began to race.

She sanded faster, leaning her whole body into it…and more gold appeared!

In an instant, she began to dream of money, and homes, and vacations, and comfort.

Until her heart sank.

When she stopped to wipe her brow, she noticed something was wrong with her wedding ring.

The bottom part of her wedding ring had been completely reduced to wire.

See, in all of her furious sanding, she had completed sanded off all of the gold from her wedding ring…thus producing the film of gold on the stone.

And it’s a good picture of our society.

We go and go and go, and work and work and work…

For gold…for things…maybe just the pursuit of them…the chase…

And in doing so we damage the things that really matter.

We never stop anymore…

Just to enjoy creation…

Or just to enjoy each other…

Author Mark Buchanan writes:

“I’ve squandered treasure in pursuit of dust…All the times I never swam in a cool lake with my children, made a snowman or baked sugar cookies with them, lingered in bed with my wife on a Saturday morning, or helped a friend in need, all because I was in a hurry to---well, that’s just it: I don’t remember what.” - Mark Buchanan in “The Rest of God”

I don’t know about you, but that cuts me to the heart.

Like we’ve been saying in this series, when we don’t prioritize…

…we find ourselves on this hurried path to who knows where…and we miss out on the things that truly matter

And so maybe we need SOMETHING like a sabbath…

As a discipline to help us reprioritize.

Disciplines are important.

They teach us deeper truths.

The spiritual discipline of fasting, trains you to say no to your fleshly urges

The spiritual discipline of tithing (that’s the Biblical practice of giving 10% of your finances back to God), trains you to trust that God can provide and take care of you…

Even if your mind might tell you that if you had 100% of your money, it seems like you would be better off.

But the discipline of tithing, is teaching you to TRUST…and SURRENDER…to His ways

And the discipline of sabbath and is no different.

Yes, your mind is going to tell you, just like with tithing, that if you had 100% of your time to accomplish things, you’d be better off.

But by setting aside a time, a day… to not work, but to rest…

You are declaring, “God, you are in control of my life…”

“I don’t have to make it all work.

“I’ll find life…your way…not mine”


Okay, so what can this really look like in present day?

I think what you’re looking for is to find, what I would call, Sabbath rhythms in your life.

You’re setting aside, prioritizing, times to rest weekly, daily, maybe even annually.

I want to encourage you to start by finding a sabbath rhythm to your weekly schedule.

If your work schedule doesn’t allow it yet, start with a half day…try and grow towards a full day.

Sunday is great day to sabbath, but remember, according to Paul, there’s not one way to do it...we can each find our own rhythms here.

For example, obviously I can’t do Sundays.

There’s something I do Sunday mornings, can’t remember, but I feel like I’m usually busy.

And so for me, that day is Monday.

I do ZERO work on Monday. Seriously, none. 0%.

I shut off my email.

It’s not pushed to my phone, so unless I open up the app myself (which I don’t) I won’t see any emails.

My staff knows not to contact me on that day.

They don’t text, they don’t call.

If they have a question, they email me, and I’ll check it on Tuesday.

And I do the same for them, when it’s their day off.

And I’ll tell you what:

I work a lot of hours during the week…too many probably…

And by Sunday night, I’m tired.

But by Tuesday morning, I’m pumped and ready to work again.

Because I let my MIND, and my BODY rest from work.

Do you have a day of the week in which you could do this?

And you want to find a couple of Sabbath Rhythms in your schedule, not just weekly ones, but daily rhythms too


Well, for those of you who work, it’s harder to leave work at work…than ever before.

A generation ago, employees could clock in, clock out, go home and BE PRESENT at home.

Sure, if they really wanted to, people could have taken some of their work home, but now, work FOLLOWS most people home.

Your boss practically lives with you…buzzing your phone with email notifications all evening long…

They expect you to check in even when you’re on vacation.

Listen, any scientist, or even pastor, will tell you that our bodies aren’t built for that.

We need to have rhythms of resting and recharge.

Establishing sabbath rhythms, means that you find time to be TOTALLLY off from work.

For some of you, it’s totally off from your phone.

You need a rhythm of sabbath…a daily and weekly rhythm for when you’re “off”

But 95% of people in 2019 have no sabbath rhythm in their life

You spend 4 hours each evening going:

“I’m off, no I’m on, I’m off, no I’m on, I’m off, no I’m on”

THAT…is exhausting.

And it’s not what God wants for you.

He wants you to establish a “Sabbath Rhythm of Off”

If you’re in a place where you’re having to work all day, and check in all night…start looking for a different job

“Like, don’t quit the one you have until you get a new one, but start looking!”

Don’t sacrifice your spiritual life and your family on the altar of your career

A bunch of you just went, “That’s never gonna happen”

For Millenia now, Jews have continued to keep their sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night.

Think about this: they accept all kinds of criticisms or difficulties that come with doing that.

But we’re to find our worth, not in our work, but in our God.

In Deuteronomy (which also has the 10 commandments), the command on the sabbath ends like this:

(Deuteronomy 5:15) – NIV

15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Moses is saying, “You used to be slaves! You worked 7 days a week. You’re not a slave anymore! You’re free now. You don’t have to labor/work all the time. God took you out of that land so you could go and worship Him”

The Sabbath is a gift to you!

And so, here’s how I have a rhythm of sabbath…when it comes to my DAILY life:

When I’m at work, I try to be present at work.

When I’m at home, I try to be as present with my wife and kids as possible.

I try and stop checking my emails at 5pm when I leave the office.

I’m not taking phone calls in the evening

On my good days, I leave my phone in the car, or on the counter.

But I’m definitely not perfect at it.

But isn’t it a miserable feeling to be multi-tasking work and family?

Those of you who have kids, you know this.

When I’m typing an email on my phone (trying to solve something)…and my kids are going, “Daddy, play with me!”

And I’m saying, “Just hold on!!! Ugh, I accidentally sent the email without taking that really angry part out”

When you try to do both (on/off/on/off), you end up discovering, you’re not good at work and you’re not good at family.

We are desperate for these sabbath rhythms...of setting aside a period to just be “off”

What does this need to look like in your life?

If you’re going to carve out a day…

You want to plan in things that are going to bring you rest and rejuvenation to your body and soul.

Like sleeping in.

Which, when I was in college, meant 1:00 in the afternoon

Now, it means 6:45am…when the children start yelling

Make time on a sabbath day, just to hang out, go for a walk, take a nap, go out for lunch, if you’ve got little kids…just get down on the floor with them and PLAY

Take your phone, for the day, and throw it in a pond…

Okay, maybe not in a pond, but just put it somewhere else.

Can’t you just FEEL that this is what you were made for??

God made you to rest…not to burn the candle at both ends.

In determining other things to do, it depends on you.

Is grocery shopping restful for you?

It might not be, but it could be.

What about mowing the lawn?

I actually like it…brings me rest

It gets my mind on something else…

You’re looking for things that bring you rest and rejuvenation.

We recognize that, ultimately, we find our rest in Christ.

And the Sabbath, was meant, more than anything, to be a day of restful WORSHIP

So how can you set aside time to seek God that day?

For a lot of you, it might be Sunday…and you just cement in…every Sunday…EVERY Sunday…it starts w/ worship…here.

But maybe you set aside some extra time later on (as you have all day)

To just journal, or walk and talk with God…or go in a room and turn on some worship music.

If you’re married, start talking with your spouse on the car ride home about how you guys could do this.

God wants, He desires…to speak into your life.

Find a rhythm of sabbath…so you can slow down and let Him speak into it.

Let me pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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