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The Struggle with Time

Unmasking the Villains of your Heart  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:22
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Due to my legendary patience, that I’m sure Ann would be glad to describe to you, I enjoy buffets. It can be a salad buffet, a pizza buffet, a Chinese buffet, an Italian buffet, a Mongolian BBQ, or one that I haven’t found for several years – a Mexican buffet.
Based upon my observations of other diners, I’m not the only one who tried to get all I can eat onto one plate and thereby pay the “one trip” price.
“All you can one-trippers” have various strategies of getting more food into one trip. There are the “protein only” because bread and veggies are high-profit fillers. There are the “get a full-size dish” to avoid the smaller salad plates or dessert bowls. There are the “strategic builders” who build a rim with certain foods so that they can go higher with the middle of the plate.
One can always tell an “All you can one-tripper” by the careful way he slowly walks back to his seat because he knows he is one misstep away from catastrophe and major embarrassment.
The longer I live, the more I see our calendars resembling the “all you can one-tripper.” I will not reveal any identities in order to protect the guilty, because I am one of them, but these are the people who always seem to be 5 minutes late because there was just one more task that needed to be done before they left.
We attempt productivity and efficiency, but we exude stress and hurry to those around us. The battle against time is one of the great struggles of modern life. In our 24/7 culture, we desperately need to hear what God has to say about the issue of time.
The fourth commandment has often been misunderstood. Some Christians have thought that they were honoring God by making Sunday the dullest day of the week, a day marked by long lists of things that you could not do, rather than a day of delight.
I have met many believers who look back on a childhood where the day of rest was a day of misery and boredom. But what kind of God would do that? Certainly not the God of the Bible who always seeks His glory and our good.
So let's approach this commandment searching for the good life that He wants us to enjoy. The fourth commandment is the longest of the ten and is divided into two parts. The first deals with the dignity of work, and the second, the blessing of rest.
Transition: The fourth commandment is the longest of the ten and is divided into two parts. The first deals with the dignity of work, and the second, the blessing of rest.

The Dignity of Work (Exodus 20:8-9)

Exodus 20:8–9 ESV:2016
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,
· Work is not to be avoided! It is a good gift from a loving God. And right about now some of you are thinking that I need to spend a day in your shadow because I’ve lost my mind!
· How can I say that all work has dignity and is a gift? Because…

Expression of the Image of God (Gen 1:26-28)

1. God brought order out of chaos and commissioned man to do the same. In Gen 1:26 humans were created to have dominion over all else that was created. In v.28 Man is told to subdue and have dominion.
I have loved moving to rural America because I see how so many of you are living out the Eden mandate. To those who work above the surface you plant & harvest, you breed and care for a herd, protecting from over-grazing or moving from one pasture to another in order to find water. You exercise dominion over the animalistic tendencies that would be damaging if the animals were left to themselves.
To those who work under the surface the masonry and road materials you manufacture are perfect examples of dominion—taking what God has created and shaping or crushing it for a useful purpose.
To those who work in the classroom, or in the home, or by giving care; Each day you reflect the image of God in shaping, guiding, and caring for those whom God loves.
To those who work in the office, the factory, or the laboratory; Each day you bring order out of chaos as a reflection of God’s image in you.
Perhaps a good assignment for you over dinner today is to talk about how your work is a reflection of God’s values.
2. All work has dignity
· God expresses Himself as an administrative leader – (dealing with the world of ideas) when he spoke the days into existence. Each day of creation in Gen 1 shows that “God said” (12x in Gen 1-2) and it happened.
· God expressed Himself as a manual laborer when he “made” (8x in Gen 1-2) man from the dust. (Ps. 8:6 refers to the work of His hands)
3. Jesus was known as the carpenter. (Mark 6:3)
· Jesus wasn’t just “a” carpenter, he is specifically referred to as “the” carpenter.
· When Jesus was baptized by John a voice proclaimed, “in you I am well pleased”. What had Jesus done up to this point? He had obeyed his parents and worked in the carpentry shop.

Completing Your Work (v.9 & 11)

1. Work is not determined by compensation, but by contribution. Adam did not have wages direct deposited into the First Community Bank of Eden.
2. God gave Adam a responsibility and He expected it to get done. By thinking of work as contribution rather than compensation we can find purpose and meaning during retirement years.
3. Your work is much larger than your paycheck. We each have responsibilities in our homes as part of a family.
4. Speaking of families, what about the family of God? There are “works of ministry” around here that will only be done when we each live out our spiritual gift in response to God’s prompting. These works of ministry are why the insert has been provided to aid you in praying through what your work in and through this church might look like.
5. Students, you have homework and assignments that do not lead to immediate compensation.
6. Every member of a community has an obligation to contribute to the society and to work through coaching, sponsoring & volunteerism for the good of others.
7. Let me say a brief word about care-givers. Some of us carry responsibility to care for young children, elderly adults, those with special needs, or living animals who cannot feed themselves. The only way that these care-givers will ever be able to take a day of respite is if we live as a community and consider how we can help each other to live the rhythm of weekly sabbath.
More often than not, the only time that we can’t finish our work in 6 days is if 1) we waste time or procrastinate during the 6, or 2) We take upon ourselves work that God doesn’t intend for us to do.

Dividing Your Work (vv.9, 11)

1. In using 6 days for creation (He could have done it in 1), God is modeling order and structure for us.
2. Work can seem overwhelming. The successful worker will divide and prioritize tasks.
3. Each Day is a unit of work/rest; Each week is a unit of work/rest; Each season contains holiday/festivals which can be seen as units of work/rest.
4. Personally, I have trouble in finding joy in one day’s work. I stress over the things yet to be done. Before I’ve even finished this message, I’ve already started to think about the 5th commandment and how we treat those in authority over us.
5. There are always chores to be done, no matter how great of a meal is served today, the kids and the cattle will be hungry again tomorrow. No matter how much cleaning is done today, there will always be beds to make or stalls to muck tomorrow. No matter if the inbox gets totally processed and filed, more mail is on the way. No matter if the fence rows get totally weeded, soon enough there will be new fence to mend or gates to tend.
6. In the 4th commandment we are instructed to divide up the tasks, prioritize what must get done and what should get done and what we want to get done. Then enjoy when the day’s tasks are complete.
It’s OK to stop and go fishing or watch a ballgame after the chores are done!
Transition: Too often, I feel burdened by what I must do tomorrow more than I find pleasure in what God enabled me to do today. But God's pattern is that we should savor the joy of our completed work every day, every week, and every year. Which is the point of vv.10-11

The Blessing of Rest (Ex. 20:10-11)

Exodus 20:10–11 ESV:2016
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Different from the Rest of the Week (v.11b)

1. The word “Holy” does not mean pious or religious. It simply means “removed from common use” or “subject to special treatment.”
The best picture of “set apart” I can think of is my pink plastic bin. For a season between 1990-94 we had several hospital stays with babies being born and other surgeries. Each time someone was admitted to the hospital we were sent home with a pink plastic tub. These tubs are useful for rinsing vegetables, bathing babies, holding first aid supplies or keeping all the baby’s socks together. But I have one pink tub that happened to be under the sink so I used it to carry all my plumbing tools back to my workbench. If you’ve ever opened a p-trap or snaked a drain, you know that you don’t want the same bin that holds plumbing tools to be used for soaking your green beans! In that way, my pink bin is “removed from common use”.
2. God does not intend for you to do 60 hours of work in 1 day. He intends that you do each day’s task then enjoy rest. Each Day God took pleasure in what had been accomplished that day. Then He instructs us to set one day apart for us to celebrate the work that has been done.
· Am I the only one who enjoys sitting down with a large iced tea and looking at a job I’ve just completed?
· Do you ever stop and look at the empty laundry basket or the made beds and tale pleasure in work accomplished?
3. Our need for “Rest” must be shaped by the reality that God rested and that Hebrews invites us to enter into God’s rest.
· God does not need to replenish strength. I can’t imagine God saying, “I’m exhausted, let’s break for the day and pick it up tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.”
· Rest is not the same as leisure or inactivity. I can’t imagine God lying in a hammock under a shade umbrella with a cold Dr. Pepper reading the latest Janette Oke book.
4. God’s idea of rest is to reflect upon what has been accomplished and to celebrate it.
5. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a day defined by sunrise to sundown. The Jewish sense of a day was from sundown one day until sundown the next day.
For me, my usual sabbath is from Noon Sunday until Noon Monday. Monday mornings I file my sermon notes along with the weekly bulletin and any guest cards that I have been given. In this process I offer a prayer of thanksgiving that God permitted me to proclaim His gospel and I utter prayers of petition for the needs that are shared during Sunday School, prayer time, or after the service. I reflect upon what happened during the services and celebrate what God accomplished.

The Shared Enjoyment of Completed Work (v.10b)

1. I briefly mentioned earlier Caregivers. Notice the scope of the command. The challenge if for those who have authority to do all they can to release the burden of work for those whom they are responsible. Even down to the livestock. The challenge for employers is to pay a living wage so that employees would also have the ability to reflect on a week’s worth of work that has been accomplished.
2. I would fall into the same trap as the Pharisees if I tried to define this for you. But consider if the way you spend your day of rest forces others to miss a day of rest. Could the family work together so that Sunday dinner is not a burden for any one member of the family? Should homework or yardwork not be put off unnecessarily until Sunday afternoon? I’m not trying to be legalistic, but I think overloading our schedules like a buffet plate is a challenge for all of us and it will take planning and saying “no” to some things to make it happen.
3. As part of this planning, perhaps the rancher and his neighbors could help each other out so that the herd doesn’t have to be fed by the same person 7 days a week. Perhaps the body of Christ can share the load of caregivers in order for them to gain some respite.
Transition: So which day of the week is the correct day for Sabbath?

First Day or Final Day?

1. Twice in these verses we read “7th day” and 3 times we read “sabbath”. But most Christian churches worship on the 1st day of the week. So which is correct?
2. We read clearly in the Gospels that the Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which set a new rhythm for celebration. But it would be wrong for us to assume that worship celebration was the same as a day away from work. As most of the early Christians were converts from Judaism, they would have deeply ingrained patterns of ceasing from work from Sundown Friday until Sundown Saturday. There is nowhere in Scripture that precludes meeting to worship early before a day’s work or late after Sunday’s work.
· We know that the ladies rose early to go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.
· We know that Eutychus fell asleep when the sermon went too long into the evening in Acts 20.
3. OT – Finish your work so you can enter into rest. To the devout Jew sabbath was a celebration of work completed and anticipation of the end of life when they would experience ultimate rest.
4. NT – Christ finished the work so we can enter into rest (Mt 11:28). To the Christ-follower, sabbath is a celebration of the work that Christ has accomplished to secure our salvation and anticipation of the time in the future when our mission will be complete.
5. If rest is the celebration of work accomplished. We can rest on the first day of the week because Jesus has already declared “it is finished” and that if we come unto him weary and heavy-laden that He will give us rest.


My friend, if you are striving to earn God’s favor by slavishly obeying commands and rules, please accept the gift of rest that Jesus has secured by his death and resurrection.
If your life has become over-crowded like the buffet plate so that you feel like you don’t have time to participate in sabbath. Now is the time to start saying, “no” to the things that God has not assigned to you so that you can eagerly say “yes” to the blessed life that He has in store for you.
Closing Hymn #56........................ Day by Day
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV:2016
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
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