February 21. 2018 Pump The Breaks

We live in a world that is success driven. We are taught that we need to go to school to work jobs that pay a lot of money so we can buy stuff. Then we keep working so that we can buy bigger and better stuff when the stuff we bought gets outdated. So we are constantly working and driving ourselves crazy to buy more stuff.

And, working hard is not a bad thing. Proverbs 6:6 tells us to be like the ant. It works hard and prepares for what is to come.

So, hard work can be a good thing, but we are designed to have a time of rest. The busier we are, the more difficult it is for us to just stop and rest. Exodus 34:21 “You have 6 days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest.”

When we are constantly going 100 mph from one activity to the next, we ignore the things around us. We stop looking at the clouds, we stop looking at nature and stop looking at the sky at night, seeing the stars that decorate it like glimmering jewels.

When we get this tunnel vision of worldly success, that is the only thing that we begin to see and we lose out on the wonder of God.

So tonight, I am challenging you to pump the breaks, and have time to rest.

Pump the Breaks!

                Yes, I know that “brakes” is spelled differently, but the intention is to say we need to make sure we take breaks when we need them.

                It’s very easy for us to feel burned out when we have school, church, sports, jobs, extracurricular activities, and every other thing that you do. This is why God has commanded us to take a Sabbath day. He has showed us how we should live our lives in a 7-day period. We work diligently for those 6 days like the ant, getting everything done, and then on that 7th day, we stop and get our focus back on Him. This is why Sunday’s are so great. We have the chance, not once but twice to come together as the body of Christ and worship God together.

Let’s look at what the Bible has to say.

Psalm 46:10 states “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in all the earth.”

So, just reading over the verse quickly, we see that we are told to be still and that God will be exalted.

Lets slow it down, and read it again.

·         Be still

o   How difficult is it for us to be still?

§  I know for me, I am constantly grabbing for my phone, checking social media 100 times a day when I have a free second, or playing a game.

§  I use my fingers as drum sticks and beat on my desk, my chair, the table…

§  It is difficult for me to stop moving unless I am asleep, but even then I find myself waking up in different positions than when I go to sleep.

o   When we are still, not worried about anything else, we can then begin to think about God and His creation. When I was a kid, life was much less complicated and much less connected. I didn’t have technology in my face 24-7. I could go outside and just lay on a blanket and look at the clouds or the stars and appreciate nature.

o   When we get ahold of the Bible and sever ourselves from our devices or the people around us, even momentarily, we can soak up what God is saying to us through His word.

§  If we try to finish reading as quickly as possible, it’s like a plant. A fast heavy rain does more damage to a plant than good. It either sits on the dirt and never actually seeps into the dirt, or it drowns the plant and it dies.

§  The best kind of rain for a plant is a slow steady one. The water breaks through the dirt and begins to be absorbed by the plant in a way that the plant can handle. This causes the plant to grow big and strong and be able to maintain its life.

§  When we read the Bible, we need to let the words be like a slow steady rain. We need to absorb the words that it may cause us to grow spiritually, and not just be washed away.

o   One of my favorite things to do (when I make time for it) is to just sit down and read the Bible with a cup of coffee and the band Leeland playing in the background. I try to read slowly and digest the words. Then I will write down the things that I feel that God is telling me through that particular text.

·         And Know that I am God.

o   Can you get to know someone by quickly rushing through a conversation with them? Can you get to really know them in just a few minutes?

§  No. If I know that I won’t see a person but one time, I find it very difficult to make myself remember their name.

§  We get so busy that we have hundreds of followers on Instagram but maybe only 1 actual friend. We give people a glimpse of the good parts of our life but omit the negative.

§  We get in the habit of bringing this to our spiritual life as well. We open our bible occasionally and read for 5 minutes or so, just to get it over with and then close it and forget everything that we read. Or, we pray this ritual prayer that doesn’t go any farther than our lips.

§  We find that our spiritual lives are shallow or unfulfilling because we are not slowing down and investing the time necessary for it to grow.

§  Our walk with Christ is not the equivalent of a happy meal from McDonald’s.

o   So how do we know that He is God?

§  We need to actually read the Bible. Psalm 34:8 says to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

·         Favorite Food? When we have our favorite meal, we don’t scarf it down as fast as possible. We savor it and eat it slowly so that we can enjoy the taste and the texture of whatever food it may be. We pay attention to the different flavors that may be present.

·         When I eat Tiramisu, I appreciate it down to licking the plate or bowl when it’s finished. I try to taste all the flavors: the coffee, the mascarpone cheese, the lady fingers, the powdered chocolate. 

§  Joshua 1:8 states “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

·         What does it mean here by meditate?

o   It doesn’t mean to clear your mind of everything and try to find some inner peace.

o   It means to saturate your mind with the word of God, and focus on it so that it is written on the tablet of your heart. That the word of God becomes a part of who you are and everything that you do.

§  We need to have a genuine conversation with God. Let’s get away from the “formal” pre-programmed prayers. Be honest with God, open up your heart to the One who created it. Talk to God about what you are really dealing with. You may be surprised by how He reacts.

·         Jesus calls God, Abba which translated means “daddy”. God is our daddy. He is there to comfort us when we need it. He is here with a listening ear to hear all the things we need to talk about.

·         Spend more than a minute or two praying. Take time to pray for the people around you.

o   I want to challenge you this week to slow down. I want you to take 15-20 minutes a day, maybe first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep to read one of the Psalms. Read it slowly, read it multiple times, just digesting what the writer had to say about who God is. Then speak to God as if you were speaking to someone you love deeply and who deeply loves you.

·         So when you get overwhelmed by your busy schedules, and feel like you are on the brink of exhaustion, just pump the breaks, and take a chance to slow down, even if momentarily, and meditate on who God is and His word for us.

I want to also challenge you in another way, that is completely unrelated. I came across the Daniel Challenge.

·         Set an alarm for 3x a day to pray for someone. Just stop in the middle of your day, no matter what you may be doing, and pray for someone that you know to know Jesus.

·         I challenged you last week to live Ignited, so be ignited and pray that someone else will become ignited as well.