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On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day he rested from all his work of creation. - Genesis 2:2-3 (NLT)
“We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear he is a whiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was.
If ever, oh ever, a wiz there was, the Wizard of Oz is one because, because…
because of the wonderful things he does.”
The word, “because,” is usually an important qualifier. It gives us the reason that a particular thing has happened or is true. Why are we off to see the wizard? Why do we hope that the Wizard of Oz can help us? Because of the wonderful things he does. Had we not heard of the Wizard’s wonderful things, we’d not risk our lives on a perilous journey in hopes of having our deepest and most desperate desires miraculously met.
The creation narrative in Genesis 1 and 2 ends by making an important distinction. After six days of completing the work of creation, God took one more day simply to rest. He finished the work, so He rested. In doing so, He called the seventh day holy. “Holy” refers to something that is sanctified, set apart. A holy thing is hallowed and consecrated. The first six days where God did the work of creation, He called “good.” The seventh day He called “holy.”
Why was this day set apart above all others, hallowed and sanctified? Because, because… because of the wonderful rest He does. It is the rest that makes the day holy. The work is good; the rest is holy.
So the creation of the heavens and earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day, God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. - Genesis 2:1-2 (NLT)
My youngest son is at the really fun age where he is enthusiastic about everything. Every little accomplishment is cause for celebration.
“Does 3 + 5 make 8? Yes? Thanks, Dad!”
“I put my jacket on all by myself!”
“Look how super fast I am!”
“Did I do a good job?”
There is something in our nature that causes us to seek approval from others, especially from parental figures.
If anyone deserves an “atta boy” for a job well done, it would be God. In a mere six days He created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. Six days. Everything. One time I worked on drywalling a basement room for six weeks and ultimately had to hire someone else to finish the job that I only managed to muck up. Even so, there was a sense of peace that came with acknowledging that I am lousy at home-improvement projects. I could stop trying to be something I’m not and enjoy the fact that someone far more capable than me would finish off the new bedroom.
Ceasing our work is a reminder that we can’t do all the things. Falling asleep at night forces us to acknowledge that the world keeps on spinning without our efforts. There will be night and then morning the next day. Rest reminds us that God is in control and that we are loved by Him, regardless of what we built up or tore down. We come to God and ask, “Did I do a good job?” He simply replies, “Get some rest. I’ll take it from here.”
Continue the practice today of setting apart your times of rest. Offer your work to God, then thank Him for working on your behalf. You may find it helpful to physically act out this laying down of your work by opening your hands up to Him, removing a yoke from your shoulders, or simply kneeling to pray.Share Tweet
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. - Luke 10:42 (NLT)
Nate’s parents have never been sports fans of any sort and are happily oblivious when it comes to professional sports. In a mystery of nature vs. nurture, Nate himself grew to love sports, even becoming a commentator for professional soccer. Recently, Nate’s parents began texting him about an odd encounter they had on the train. Apparently a group of young rabble-rousers had been playing a raucous game of UNO in the adjacent seats, causing more than a little disruption to the quiet ride. One of the young “hooligans” came forward to apologize, and as a peace offering asked Nate’s parents if they would like a picture. They thought it odd for a stranger to take their picture, but obliged, not wanting to seem rude. The gentleman replied, “No, I meant a picture with me.” Ever polite, Nate’s parents obliged again.
“Would you happen to know who this is?” They asked their son, texting Nate the picture as they recounted the experience.
“THE MAN WITH HIS ARM AROUND DAD IS PAUL POGBA THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOOTBALLER IN THE WORLD, AND WORLD CUP WINNER WITH FRANCE!” Nate replied, calmly. (For a real hoot, read Nate’s twitter thread it all it’s glory at this link).
Nate’s point, and Jesus’s point to Martha, is this: it matters who you are with. Had Nate’s parents had any inkling that they were sharing a train car with Manchester United, one of the most famous football clubs in the world, and Paul Pogba, the man who scored the go-ahead goal to win the 2018 World Cup Finals, they might have been inclined to enjoy the company a little more.
Had Martha truly recognized that Jesus, the Messiah, the One who takes away our sins, was reclining at her table, she might have been more inclined to enjoy His presence rather than rushing about. The lesson is simple: there is no substitute for time spent with Jesus.
But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. - Luke 10:40 (NLT)
Do you remember the eldest son from Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son? His father welcomed home his selfish, irresponsible, and reckless brother by greeting him with a hug and throwing a party. The older brother teems with self-righteous indignation. “I’ve been here all along, doing exactly what is expected of me. Why does he get the party?”
In Luke 10 we see a similar scene unfold, only this time it’s not a parable. Jesus is invited into the home of Martha, who busies herself with all kinds of tasks to make Him feel at home. (How many of us would naturally do the same?) Yet Martha’s sister, Mary, stays out of the kitchen and instead plants herself at the feet of Jesus, listening to every word He says. Martha teems with self-righteous indignation: “Why does she get to sit with you while I’m stuck here doing all the work that is expected of me?”
For Martha - and the prodigal’s brother, and maybe for me and you - performance has supplanted presence. “I am doing all the things! Look at all the things I have done! I’ll never not do all the things!”
And then, almost always, “He hasn’t done all the things. She’s not doing nearly as many things as she should be.”
It’s no surprise, but performance-driven people tend to judge others based on their performance. When tasks and results and spiritual checklists are the measure of spiritual “rightness” or maturity, chances are we’ve forgotten that Jesus is sitting at the table, waiting for us to notice Him. I love that Jesus is gentle with Martha even in her accusations. “Martha, thanks for the meal. Really. But you don’t need to do all of that. I’ll not be here much longer, so take a load off.”
See, it’s possible to invite Jesus to the table and still completely miss Him. Let that not be said of us. Let us choose the better portion: presence over performance. That realization alone should give us freedom to rest fully in Christ.
Meditate on Ephesians 2:8–9 today, and commit the verse to memory.Share Tweet
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. - Luke 10:42 (NLT)
There’s a hilarious scene in the movie Hitch where Will Smith’s character (a professional “date doctor”) is trying to teach the hapless loser, Albert (played by Kevin James), how to dance. Left to his own devices, Albert is inclined to bust out any number of passionate but highly embarrassing dance moves: the sprinkler, the lawnmower, make the pizza, the double Q-tip. Hitch knows a disaster on the dance floor when he sees one, so he intervenes with a simple solution.
“This is where you live. Right here. You live right here,” he says to Albert, while stepping rhythmically from side to side. Back and forth with the music, arms locked loosely in front of the body. “This is home.” Side to side. Nothing more. Hitch’s theory: stick strictly to one basic move and you’ll avoid the temptation to try to impress with any number of awkward gyrations.
It’s a stretch, I know, but the concept translates. There is always a home base, a single person, place, or thing, that should keep us grounded. Keep the main thing the main thing. Remember where you live. Stick with home.
Jesus reminds Martha that He is the one thing. He is home base. “There is only one thing worth being concerned about,” He says. Lose sight of this and we’ll quickly embrace the temptation to impress others with any number of well-meaning but vain efforts. In John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. Unless we remain in Him, we can do nothing of value.
Abide in Him, dwell in Him, be rooted in Him. “This is where you live, right here. With me,” He says. All our efforts to build something on our own are meaningless if we lose sight of Home.
In other words, “seek first the Kingdom of God, and all other things will be added to you."
Sabbath helps us abide - to stay home. Make a commitment over the next month to practice Sabbath. Read this article for tips on how to cultivate a meaningful Sabbath.Share Tweet