What is Sabbath? A day set aside to rest, not to work, it’s a holy day. The Lord modeled this for us in the Creation story as He rested on the 7th day.
May 18, 2023
Speaker: Belinda Sanders
It kind of goes without saying that moms are far more important than we give them credit for. I often get referred to as the father of this house or the dad of this house. And that’s great. That’s fine. But I thought today, for Mother’s Day, it’d be really fun to let the mom of this house share.
Belinda and I’ve been married 30 years, and we’ve been in ministry for the vast majority of those years. I think all but three, maybe four. In all that time, she has stood beside me. I think her choice would be to be out of the way, out of the limelight, just serving. There are fun things about Belinda that I love in this house. She’s one of the oldest members of the Vintage Children’s Ministry team. Not age-wise, but the longest-standing servant. She’s 22. So don’t worry about it. She stopped aging at 22. I just kept getting older.
She has an incredible, diligent heart behind the scenes to serve and to be faithful. You’re more likely to find her in the kitchen washing dishes at Vintage than you are wanting to be at this desk. So when I asked her what do you want for Mother’s Day, she did not say I want to teach. But I want you to put your hands together and welcome Mrs. Belinda Sanders.
Hello, there’s a lot of you here. He took all my openers. You’re not supposed to do that, babe. Good morning, Vintage family. Again, Happy Mother’s Day. Yay!
I just want to take a quick minute to give a brief shout-out to all the women that are in my life. My sweet mama, my sisters, and my mother-in-law. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you guys. I would also love to honor all of you in this room who are women, not just moms.
I know that Mother’s Day can be super, super tricky. I certainly understand the sensitivity that comes with celebrations on days like this. But I do believe that the Lord created us as women to be unique. We are not like men. We have a natural instinct in us or nature in us to be a mother, whether we have children in our lives or not. We also are very nurturing. I think that requires being celebrated.
Those things often come with triumphs and failures, joy, pain, and disappointment. But the Lord is good. There was a quote that I came across this week in prepping, knowing that I was going to be speaking to mothers, and I want to read it to you. It stopped me in my tracks because probably the loudest voice in my head is the voice about all those things — my disappointments, my imperfections, those things that I don’t do right, that I’m not enough. The quote says, “There are no perfect moms,” — and we could tuck in, there are no perfect women — “just imperfect ones partnering with a perfect God.” Amen.
That should bring us all comfort that only He is the one created to carry our burdens and our faults and our failures and all of those things I just listed. So if you are a woman in this building, which there are so many of you that weren’t in the first service, would you please do me a favor and put your hand on your heart? I’d like to pray for us today.
Father, we thank You so much for each and every one of these women in this building. I thank you, Lord, for the creative way You have made us. I thank You, Lord, that we are unique, we are tender, we’re feminine. And Lord, I ask that today, as we celebrate moms and we celebrate women in general, that You would speak to our hearts, that You would show us how extravagantly You love us, and that You would remind us that we are Your princesses. We are Your queens. Help us to continue to keep putting one foot in front of the other and give us the strength and the courage and the ability to just keep going. Because the world needs who You called us to be. We don’t need to be anything else. We just need to be Your beloved. So Father, as we celebrate moms and we honor women today and we hopefully lavish lots of love on them, I pray that You would just wrap Your arms of love around these women in this body as well as those joining us online. I pray that they would feel a special touch just from You. We love You. You’re a good good Father. You give us good gifts, and You bless us so much. We’re so grateful. In Jesus’ name, amen.
All right. So a little bit of honesty here. I am not a wordsmith like Mr. Sanders. I won’t be geeking out on any Greek this morning. I prayed really hard last night that the Lord would give me a sweet English accent so that I would be easier to follow. But He didn’t provide that. So here I am.
As a little girl, I truly just wanted to be a missionary to the people of Africa. Where, in my opinion, there aren’t bright lights and scary stages and cameras with possible bad angles and also live streams that live in digital eternity. That’s my fear right there.
But here I am stepping into this new season that the Lord has given to me with all the strength and all the courage that I’ve needed just for today. I thank those of you who have reached out this whole month since Good Friday since Greg announced that I was preaching. You have been kind with your words of encouragement. You have told me you’re praying for me, told me that you believe in me, told me I can do it. Because it truly has given me the ability to get up on this stage and do it.
I take this assignment very seriously. I can promise you I understand the importance of being prepared. I love this church. I love kind of being the mom of this church. I pray that every word that flows out of my mouth this morning would glorify the King yet also make a place in your hearts and your minds. So let’s get going.
It was about the middle to the end of January this year when the Lord started tugging on my heart about the Sabbath. It’s something admittedly that I don’t do well. Even Greg will tell you we as the Sanders family don’t do it well. Anyone who knows me knows I struggle to actually rest.
But I couldn’t shake the tug. And truly the biggest thing that I’d like to invite us to today in our time together is not to have a conversation about the law and the requirement, but to have a conversation about the question of what was in the heart of the Father in giving us the Sabbath.
To start us thinking, I believe the Sabbath is important. And I believe it is for today. I’d like to, through the scriptures, bring us to that truth. If you’re like me and you grew up in church, you probably had to memorize the Ten Commandments. My family was also at the church every time the church doors were open. I know Greg has shared that as well, being in a ministry family.
I just want to tell you a really quick story that will help you understand how much we were at the church. So I’m the youngest of four girls. It felt like we always had a station wagon growing up. We were that Brady Bunch family. When I was probably seven or eight, we moved to Washington. I was born in Louisiana, but we had moved to Washington.
I remember I was in the car alone. Everybody else was still in the house. This was a Sunday evening. So we were headed to church. I was in the front bench seat, and in front of me was this cigarette lighter gadget. I had no clue what it was. And for those of you that are super young, yes, we had cigarette lighters in our cars back then, in the early 80s.
My parents never smoked, and I didn’t understand even what that gadget did, but I decided to push it in. And you know, it takes a few seconds to warm up and then it kind of halfway pops out and you can grab it and look at it or do whatever you’re supposed to do with it like light your cigarette. But obviously, those coils were bright, bright red, so I knew it was hot.
Shortly after, it turned from bright red back to gray, so I took my finger and I touched it. And lo and behold, I had this lovely coil burn on my pointer finger. Now here’s the point of the story. My mom was on to play the piano for the service. So we did not stay home. I got to carry with me a plastic cool whip container with ice and water in it for my finger.
So just a quick little story about how often my family was at the church. Some of you may have gotten to stay home, but I did not.
If you did grow up in the church, you probably memorized those Ten Commandments, like I just said. If your home was also like mine, maybe that fourth commandment was a great point of focus. That fourth commandment says to remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
In our women’s Bible study that we just finished with Lisa Harper — she is a lovely, lovely lady. And an amazing storyteller. I had not had any experience listening to her in any studies before. She’s going to be my new best friend. She just doesn’t know it yet.
She always says when she’s reading the Scripture from the Old Testament — you’ve probably either cross-stitched this verse or seen it flannel graphed. I don’t cross-stitch because that would require too much patience. But I can tell you, growing up in Sunday school, I have for sure seen many a flannel graph Jesus.
I grew up in a fairly rule-based denomination. So much so that we had a manual we had to read that, in my opinion, had lots of rules in it, but also some beliefs before we could become a member.
So all of the observing and keeping holy came with a lot of things that we don’t do on a Sunday and very little to no understanding as to why we weren’t doing those things. So for my rule-following personality that left me a little confused, I needed answers to those whys.
It left me honestly also feeling like God was more of a shake-your-finger-or-your-fist-at-you God than a kind relational father. So, the first thing that I would like to ask today is, what is the Sabbath? The word “Sabbath” is “Shabbat” in Hebrew and means intermission or rest.
It is used more than 150 times in Scripture. In Jewish culture, it is a celebration of the Sabbath. I’d like to take us through some key verses in the Old Testament. We’re going to be in two books, Exodus and Leviticus. When you get to those two books and you have your finger to hold your place, would you mind standing with me while I read the Scripture?
All right, first one. Exodus chapter 31, verses 12 through 14. “Then the Lord said to Moses, say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe My Sabbaths. This will be assigned between Me and you for the generations to come so you may know that I am the Lord who makes you holy. Observe the Sabbath because it is holy to you.'”
The next is Leviticus 23:3. “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work, wherever you live. It is a Sabbath to the Lord.”
Back to Exodus 20, verses eight through 11. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work. Neither you nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals nor the alien within your gates. 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.”
The last one is in Leviticus, chapter 16, verse 31. “It is a day of Sabbath rest and you must deny yourselves. It is a lasting ordinance.”
All right, you can take a seat.
Scripture shows us God’s design for the Sabbath. It is a day set aside to rest, to not work. It is a holy day. The Lord modeled this for us and the Creation story as He rested on the seventh day. Then we see it again, as we just read, in Exodus 20. This idea is well established. It is a lasting covenant to be observed from generation to generation.
So, why the Sabbath? The Sabbath is about rest and ceasing from work. What a hard concept for us to wrap our minds around in today’s crazy busy world, right? Yeah, I see lots of heads nodding. We live our lives overflowing and we often find it hard to find the off button until we are burnout and sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I’d like to ask another question to get you thinking, what gets in the way of the Sabbath? For most of us, it may be fear or greed, busyness, possibly distrust, or the belief we just don’t need it. The list could go on and on.
But today, I’d like to invite us to see the Sabbath differently as an expression of the Father’s deep love for us instead of an obligation that removes finance and the ability to get ahead.
Consider what the benefits of the Sabbath could be. These are pretty cool. Rest and relaxation do a body good. It helps our muscles ache less. It helps our blood pressure fall and gives our heart the ability to rest. It provides mental clarity. It boosts our creativity and our decision-making skills. It strengthens our immune system.
Spiritually, we are also called to rest. Jesus says we are to learn from Him to take up His yoke for it is easy, gentle, humble. Matthew 11:28 and 29 say, “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
Resting helps us quiet our minds and it brings focus to our actions. Focus, in turn, helps us to place our burdens at the feet of Jesus and to place our trust in His gentle kindness and His overwhelming goodness.
When we sit before Him, we find ourselves stopped long enough to realize that only God can transform our brokenness into beauty. I love that it’s very, very, very fitting for today.
Therefore, resting is a discipline that helps our human process. The Sabbath is life-giving, and it’s a beautiful act of our surrender and trust in a redeeming, gracious savior.
So can I just take a minute as a woman to speak to all the moms in the room? Often we are the ones managing the home, shuttling kids here and there, grocery shopping, meal planning, feeding our families, helping with homework, nighttime routines, putting kids to bed, all the things. Usually, then we fall into our beds exhausted. How easily we forget the need to remember our Father’s challenge to rest.
I completely understand that it feels like there’s not enough time in our days to rest as busy moms. Please, please, please don’t hear this as something that you need to take more guilt around or feel like you’re a failure. But for us to be the women that He’s called us to be, the mothers that He dreams us to be, to be all the things we as females need to be, our spirits need to be restored and refreshed.
We can’t walk into our calling that we just said was unique, right? We can’t walk into our calling and our strength with our tanks at that red line below empty. How many of you let your cars get there? We need to learn the gifts of the Sabbath. So how do we Sabbath?
There are four ideas that I’d like to give us today. The first one is to remember the Sabbath. The challenge from God to Moses was that the people of God would remember and call the Sabbath to mind. So it’s very simple. Start by asking yourself, do I actually Sabbath?
Moms, why do we remind or tell our kids to clean their rooms? Because they forget or they selectively forget. So in this question of remembering the Sabbath, you’re forcing yourself to think about it.
Point number two, don’t get hung up on the specifics. I say that to myself because I get hung up on the specifics. I don’t think or believe that there is only one way to Sabbath. To quote a great Nike ad, “Just do it.”
Obviously, in the Hebrew law concerning the Sabbath, there were strict rules given, which carried massive, massive penalties. However, if we consider why the Sabbath was given, we realize it is rooted in His kindness, and it is for our benefit. Rest is the issue.
Listen to this in Matthew 12:6, “For the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath.” What does that mean for us today? It means we are not under the law. Jesus gets to make the rules for His disciples to follow because He is God.
Hebrews chapter four, I’d love to read the whole chapter, but I just want to focus on the first verse here. “God’s promise of entering His rest still stands. So we ought to tremble with the fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For only we who believe can enter His rest.”
Remember earlier when I mentioned the idea of the Sabbath as a lasting covenant to be observed from generation to generation? It is for today. He is the fulfillment of rest. It belongs to Jesus. He follows the Father’s heart. He wants rest for His children.
The third point is to begin in gratitude. My sister gave me a gratitude journal this year. So this is something that I have been kind of learning and understanding and walking into. The Scriptures teach the Sabbath was a gift from Yahweh to His people. We are His people.
The right answer to receiving a gift is to say, “Thank you.” And I honestly can’t say thank you without doing the sign language because that’s what I did to my boys growing up to remind them to say thank you.
So gratitude puts our hearts and our minds in the right place. And it prepares us to then step into rest. So don’t begrudge it, embrace it.
Lastly, I’d like you to pick a time. I truly believe you can Sabbath on any day. Before you get mad at me, I understand that the law was to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day and I completely understand the law. But ultimately, the heart of the Father is about creating a healthy cycle.
It was for freedom that Christ has set us free, we’ve been freed by Him to rest. It could be that we like to rest outside in nature. It could be that we like to sleep in just a little bit. It could be cooking up one of your favorite meals, which is what the Sanders family likes to do. It could be pushing your kids on the swing at the park.
If we dig further into the Sabbath conversation, we ask ourselves again, “Why is He giving it?” I think we come face to face with the truth of His love and His kindness for us. If you get anything, I want you to get this right here. His promise to us is, you can rest and I will care for you.
Perhaps the Sabbath isn’t about anything but trust. Do you believe that He will provide all the things that you need, everything that you need? If you rest from your work? Yes, good. Those things can be things like finance, promotion, honor, kindness, and love.
I know for me, in my home, honoring the Sabbath has been a huge struggle. I already admitted that in my honesty this morning. We are workaholics, plain and simple. But the Lord in His kindness has again gently been tugging at me throughout this year, challenging me to open my eyes to the need for less work and more rest.
For the Sanders home, it looks like we spend maybe a Saturday getting our chores done, whether it’s inside or out. And then we shut all work down and we like to sit outside on the back patio, enjoy the weather, or hang with neighbors playing cribbage. Or, like I said, cooking. Cooking a new recipe together, that’s Sabbath stuff right there for us.
I get that we, as people, are busy. I love our work ethic. I love that we do it unto the king. But I also love that we have a Father in Heaven who wants us healthy and rested. He is for us. He won’t lead us astray. Don’t forget that.
I realize this one admonishment today isn’t going to change us overnight. I wish honestly that I could snap my fingers and make it so for me but also make it so for you. Please certainly hear my heart in just having this conversation about the Sabbath.
I’d love for this to be a prayerful consideration in the coming weeks for all of us. Church, I’m asking that we take active steps to start practicing rest and we ask the Lord for creative ways to do so. Let’s surrender our all at His feet. We just sang so many songs about it this morning. He’s worthy of it all.
I want to leave you with this one reminder from Scripture. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” And I love the amplified version. “Be still and know — recognize, understand — that I am God.”
So, I am inviting you to join me in looking at the concept of the Sabbath. You know all my dirt. I want to challenge you to release the rules and begin practicing rest. Enjoy the journey with a grateful heart and a smile and let go of the legalistic perspective on the law. Be still and rest. The Father’s heart is for you. Thank you so much for being a wonderful audience. Happy Mother’s Day.
I was hearing about Sabbath a lot for the last couple of weeks. I had never made the connection until this last week that both the Sabbath and the tithe were invitations to economic trust. We have a Father who would say to His people, I want to provide for you and I want you to learn to be generous. You can do this. I want you to be rested. You don’t have to work as hard as everybody else around you and you’ll still make it. I want you to consider that.
As I was chewing on that, I was like, whoa. I don’t know that I’ve ever systematically taken a Sabbath. I am a workaholic. Those people that are connected to me, whether it’s in this business or my other business are like, “Yep, he totally is.”
I felt such a challenge listening to Belinda share this information this week. This isn’t a question in the scriptures. It’s an invitation to obedience. When He reveals how He wants us to live, the expectation is that we say yes. So thank you for bringing that to this house.
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