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Hope for Humanity GuidebookPart Two
By Matthew Sleeth Nancy Sleeth Michael Colletto
ZondervanCopyright © 2010 Blessed Earth and Dot&Cross
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSession 7 Rest
"All who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant-these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer." -Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV)
On the seventh day God created rest. He didn't just stop creating things; He created something new, blessed it, and called it holy. And so we begin our series of actions with the indispensable inaction of a day of rest.
Rest doesn't just happen. It's not just the absence of activity. Rest, like all good things, is a gift from God in and of itself. The fourth commandment is really quite simple: stop everything. Relax. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." It's the only commandment that begins with "Remember," as if God knew we would forget about it. It's also the longest of the Ten Commandments. God is explicit and all-inclusive: don't work on the Sabbath day-don't make your son or daughter or anyone else in your household work, don't make strangers or illegal aliens or minimum wage employees work, and don't make animals work. Everyone and everything gets a day of rest. We cool our jets. We idle our engines.
Sounds nice, but how do we find rest in a 24/7 world? Just as the Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt, we have become slaves to technology. Cell phones, email, television, and the Internet are our twenty-first century taskmasters. Our technological tools allow 24-hour productivity and connectivity, give us more control ... and subtly enslave us to busyness itself.
Sabbath is about restraint, about intentionally not doing everything all the time just because we can. Setting aside a day of rest helps us reconnect with our Creator and find the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Sabbath is about letting go of the controls one day a week and letting God be God.
Musicians say that it is not the notes but the pauses between them that make the song. Similarly, the pauses between our workweeks add beauty and meaning to our lives. These Sabbath "stop days" turn the buzz of our busy lives into music.
Reflections on Rest
For years our family kept a weekly day of rest. Then I began preaching in churches around the country almost every Sunday and the trips out of town grew longer and more frequent. There was no longer a rhythm to my life, and I felt the strain-physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I was regularly speaking about the importance of a day of rest each week and I began to ignore my own advice. In the midst of my self-made whirlwind, God sent me a reminder.
On a rare day home, I opened a letter. It was from a pastor whom I greatly respect. He was writing to encourage me, and to say how much he appreciated my work. At the end of the letter, he added a postscript: "Are you remembering to keep the Sabbath?"
Busted! After enjoying a weekly day of rest for years, somehow in the last few months I had given up my Sabbath.
In case I hadn't gotten the message, I received a second nudge. A few hours after I read the letter, I received a phone call from another pastor. I had spoken at his church some time ago, and he said that my discussion about the Sabbath had really struck a chord-not only for his congregation, but also for him personally. He told me that, for twenty years, he had suffered from depression. But now that he was religiously spending time in nature on his Sabbath, the depression had finally lifted. He was calling just to thank me.
The world gives us clocks; the Lord gives us time. There is more to life than how fast we can get through it. All of us have dozens of commitments, tasks, relationships, and other excuses pulling us away from enjoying the greatest gift of all-rest in God. For a few months, I neglected this gift; I hope that I never do again. -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
Session Notes: Rest
As you watch the seventh session film, Rest, feel free to use the following page to jot down any notes, thoughts, and questions.
Hope Begins with a Changed Heart
 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." -Exodus 20:8 (NIV)
Do you set aside a weekly day of rest? If not, what stops you? Do you have any traditions on your day of rest, or do you remember any from childhood?
 "Life is about finding and seeking the balance between too much and too little action." -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
Do you maintain a balance of work and rest in your life? If not, what changes can you make to find that balance?
 "Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world's beauty and abundance." -Wendell Berry, Foreword to Living the Sabbath
Is working seven days a week a form of pride? How does coming to rest one day a week help us remember that the world doesn't revolve around, or depend on, us?
 "Blessed be to God for the day of rest and religious occupation wherein earthly things assume their true size." -William Wilberforce, British statesman and abolitionist, in his journal about his Sundays
How does observing a day of rest give God our full attention and help things "assume their true size"?
 Dr. Sleeth compares the Hebrew people's bondage in Egypt to our bondage to technology and a 24/7 life. "People feel trapped by the technology that was meant to free them. It's not uncommon to hear someone say they cannot give up their technology even if they want to." In what sense has technology become a taskmaster in your life? Give examples.
 One of the most profound lines in the Bible is, "Be still and know that I am God." How does today's "I'm so busy" mantra distract us from God? Do you make time to "be still" on a regular basis? If not, what changes in your routine would ensure that you make time for God?
 Jesus says, "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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." How does this offer from Jesus apply to our 24/7 lives? How is letting go and resting in Jesus a demonstration of faith and trust in his care and provision? What burdens could you place before him today?
 "The fourth commandment says we don't make our son or daughter or anyone else in our house work. We don't make strangers or illegal aliens or minimum wage employees work. We don't make anything work-not donkeys or cattle or chickens. We stop. We cool our jets. We idle our engines." -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
In addition to taking a day of rest ourselves, we are not supposed to make others work. In what ways do we make others work on the Sabbath? What can we do to encourage others to take a day of rest?
 "Stopping is about restraint. It's not about doing everything you can do, but finding the peace of God that passes all understanding." -Dr. Matthew Sleeth
In what sense do Sabbath laws (including rest for the land, etc.) encourage restraint?
Excerpted from Hope for Humanity Guidebook by Matthew Sleeth Nancy Sleeth Michael Colletto Copyright © 2010 by Blessed Earth and Dot&Cross. Excerpted by permission.
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