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Relax! - And That's an Order! Part 1
Exodus 20:8-11
Skip Heitzig

Exodus 20 (NKJV™)
8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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God's Top Ten - 2007

If ever there was a commandment tailor made for the workaholic, this is it! God gives permission (in fact an order) to take R and R. What a gracious God we serve to write this into the Top Ten. But this fourth commandment is a controversial one. Some have made it a burden rather than a blessing to keep. Is the Sabbath regulation for the modern Christian or just the ancient Jew? Did the Sabbath get changed? Are we breaking the Sabbath if we worship on Sunday? We’ll explore these issues in the next two weeks.

For thousands of years mankind has had God's list of Ten Commandments. Though cultures, languages and lifestyles have changed dramatically since Moses received these words on Mount Sinai, they are surprisingly very applicable to our daily lives in the 21st century.

Skip Heitzig explores in depth each of God's Top Ten and wraps up the series with a discussion on the most famous Eleventh Commandment given by Jesus during His time on earth.

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Outline

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This Week

I. Remembrance Is Commanded (Vs 8-11)
  A. Old Testament History
  B. New Testament Irony

II. Responsibility Is Conveyed (Vs9)
  A. The Blessing of Work
  B. The Balance of Rest

Next Week

III. The Premise—Why Is This So Important? (Vs 4-5a)
  A. Images Obscure God's Glory
  B. Images Mislead God’s People

IV. The Proclamation—Who Is This True God? (Vs 5b-6)
  A. Careful: A Jealous God
  B. Corrective: Visiting Iniquity
  C. Compassionate: Showing Mercy


APPLY THIS STUFF

1. How is your maintenance as a human being? Do you rest adequately? Do you play frequently? Or do you pride yourself in never taking a break and always being on the go? Which is smarter?

2. Balance out the command to rest with the command to labor. How is your work ethic? How is
your worship ethic? Ask God to help you become both a better employee and a better relaxer.

Topic: Sabbath

Transcript

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[MUSIC PLAYING]

So we know that Moses brought the commandments down from the mountain. OK, and so maybe we don't exactly know what the tablets looked like. Yes, and maybe those are the Sandias and not Mt. Sinai. But the 10 commandments are perfectly clear, especially the fourth one.

But what exactly does the Sabbath mean for us today? And also, what does the Sabbath have to do with this chicken sandwich? Well, as Christians we have flexibility as to how we celebrate the Sabbath. For example, the owner of a large chicken sandwich chain has always kept his stores closed on Sundays. So even in mall food courts, you can't get one of his sandwiches on Sunday.

Observing the Sabbath has always been a controversial topic. In Israel, the national airline is grounded on the Sabbath. And going out for dinner on Friday night in Jerusalem can be a real challenge. Some Christians enforced strict Sabbath laws in early colonial years, and missionaries took these laws to distant lands. A Methodist group enforced the Sabbath on this Polynesian island and made Sunday observance part of the nation's law, even to this day. Even today in the US, so-called Sabbath blue laws prohibit car sales in a number of states. And in Bergen County, New Jersey, nearly all commercial activity is still closed on Sunday.

So what exactly is a person to do? Well, relax as we take a look in the book and continue the series, "God's Top 10." Here's Pastor Skip.

Thank you, Joey. Let's turn in our Bibles--

[APPLAUSE]

Let's turn in our Bibles to Exodus, chapter 20.

Let's take another pause just to pray and ask God to bless this time together. Father, our worship continues as we read your book. We pray, Lord, that our minds will be sharp, focused. Our hearts would be ready to receive. That we wouldn't be the cause of any distraction. That this is your time, and we worship you by giving you our attention to receive and then to do what your spirit would speak through your word.

Thank you for so many hungry hearts. Thank you for what we've seen on Wednesdays and weekends, Lord. Just an incredible hunger to know you. You said in your word that you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you. And I know, Lord, that you will reward your people as they seek your face. In Jesus' name, amen.

I'm going to begin this morning by reading something to you from my owner's manual to my car. It's the scheduled maintenance guide. Now I've got to confess. I have never read this until yesterday. Insight into my car. But it begins this way.

Regular maintenance is essential to obtaining the highest level of performance, safety, and reliability from your car. This booklet is designed to help you make sure that your vehicle receives proper and timely maintenance. And it ends by saying, follow this booklet's recommendations, and you will enjoy maximum reliability and peace of mind from your vehicle for many years to come.

So here's the manual saying, read the book, and have regularly scheduled maintenance. Well, here's our owner's manual right here. And the commandment we're about to read, you might say, is God's maintenance law for our lives, to ensure that you live a peaceful life at maximum capacity. It's the Designer's Guide to your life.

We call these the 10 commandments, these 10 words that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. And today, the fourth commandment is part of the 10. But I would rename this fourth commandment as the tender commandment. It's tender. It shows the tender graciousness and mercy of God in writing into the script the command to relax, to rest, to take a weekly vacation. Or you might put it this way, you need a vacation from your vocation.

And keep in mind or try to imagine how powerful this statement would be to the children of Israel. Remember the setting. They're in front of Mount Sinai, and the mountain was quaking. And there was lightning and fire, and the people were down below, saying to Moses, hey, you go up and hear from God. We're not going to go near. They were in fear of this great and awesome God.

And so he gives the first commandment, worship no other gods. And the second, no graven images. And then you get down to the fourth commandment. And by the way, take a day off. Wow, radical. For 2 million slaves who didn't know what a day off was in Egypt, who were oppressed and maligned and exploited for years by the Egyptians. For God to write into the top 10, relax, and that's an order.

By the way, it is an order. It is a commandment. It's a positive commandment, but it's a commandment. And I would say that God's a pretty good judge of human character. He knows we need a commandment in this area. I venture to say that this message will speak to a great number of people who live their lives with the pedal to the metal, always living at full bore.

In fact, it seems that breaking the Sabbath is the one commandment some people actually brag about breaking. I haven't taken a day off in four years. What? We're supposed to applaud at that? That's a good thing? That shows us your great work ethic?

Vacation? Ha, what's that? Some people actually brag about breaking it. Somebody once said, we've become a generation of people who worship our work, who work at our play, and who play at our worship. Face it. Our society places such a high value on what you do. So that when we meet somebody, we say, hey, what's your name? And we shake their hand.

And typically we ask the second question, what do you do for a living? Because we equate what they do with the value of who they are. Well, something to make a note of-- and we haven't even gotten into the commandment yet-- is you'll notice that this is a positive, not a negative commandment. It's one of only two positive commandments in the top 10. Most of them are cast in the negative light. You shall not, you shall not, you shall not.

Until we get to the fourth commandment. This is put in a different manner. It's put in the positive, not the negative. And the fourth and the fifth commandment are in that manner. Notice the contrast. Go back with me to verse three. You shall have no other gods before me. Verse four, you shall not make for yourself a carved image. Verse five, you shall not bow down to them. Verse seven, you shall not take the name of the Lord your god in vain.

But now, the difference. Verse eight. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. In it, you shall do no work. You, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and he hallowed it.

Now I'm going to be taking this commandment slowly. I'm not going to do it in one message. I'm going to look at it this week with you and next week. And here's why. I face a problem. When I start studying the text, I get awfully excited. And I write things down, and I then see, how can I fit all this into one. And then I think, there's just too much information and too much inspiration from the information that I'd like to impart.

So I've already done this on one other commandment. We'll do it with a couple others. But I want to look at this slowly and really apply this and answer some questions. Because none of the 10 commandments generate more controversy than this one. Did you know that whole church movements have begun over the issue of the Sabbath day? Did you know that some people think you're actually breaking the Sabbath because you meet today and not yesterday?

In fact, some have gone so far as to say you're taking the mark of the beast if you worship on Sunday and not on Saturday. So, you know, last night we had our first service. I guess they're all OK. But what about the rest of us poor folks who are meeting here today.

So what does it mean to keep the Sabbath? What is the Sabbath? Is it a special day? Is it only the seventh day? Did it ever get changed in church history? Is the Sunday Sabbath a term we ought to use? All of these questions and more, we'll be looking at, principally next week, but in part, this week. Now let me let me remind you of something as we jump into our text today.

I want to remind you of the two divisions of the 10 commandments. Remember that there were two tables of the law. And the first four comprised the first table. The second six commandments are the second table of the law. The first four commandments are theo-centric, God-centered. They define our relationship with God. The second six are anthropocentric, man-centered. They define our relationship to each other.

So I'm bringing that up because this is the fourth commandment. This is in the first table of the law. Therefore, the Sabbath isn't just a break from your work. It must have to deal with worship. Must have to deal with our relationship with God. So let's review.

The first commandment. You have to worship the right god. You will have no other gods besides me, the Lord said. You can't just pick and choose. I worship that God with that name, and they're all really the same. You've got to worship the right god. First and foremost.

Second, you must worship the right god in the right way. You can't say, well, I sort of have decided to worship God in my own way. The only worship God accepts is the worship God directs. And then the third commandment is not only do you worship the right god in the right way, but even down to the honoring of his very name. Because name means character, reputation, and authority.

Now the fourth commandment is all part of that flow. We worship the right god in the right way, honoring his character, reputation, and authority all day on this special day. The whole day is devoted to the Lord.

So this morning I'm going to take you back to verse 8, and look at verse 8 and 9. And we're going to notice two things, the remembrance and the responsibility. Remembrance is commanded. This is a command. And the responsibility that we have is conveyed in verse 9. So let's look at it.

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. In your reading through the Bible, that word Sabbath will occur 90 times in the Old Testament. From the Hebrew word Shabbat, translated in English, Sabbath. Another 50 times it will be written in the New Testament. From the Greek word, sabbaton. Same idea. What does it mean?

It means stop. That's all it means. Stop. Cease. Desist. Put an end to. The idea is that this day puts an end to the week, the end to the workweek. Work six days, seventh day you take off. Fifty-four times in the Bible, it is not called the Sabbath, but it is called the seventh day in particular. The seventh day.

Now the seventh day we call Saturday. Doesn't start Saturday morning. But it begins Friday evening. If you were in Israel, and it was Sabbath, Friday evening you would be getting together with your family to celebrate Shabbat. Because the day begins Friday evening at sunset and continues all the way to Saturday evening at sunset.

In fact, to be exact, when you see the three stars visible in the night sky, that's when Sabbath begins. And when you see the three stars the following night, that's when Sabbath ends. So the Jewish day begins at night. Make sense?

And you say, why is that? Because that's how the creation was. It says and evening and morning were the first day. And evening and morning were the second day. And evening and morning were the third day, etc. So the day begins in the evening, continues through the daylight hours to sunset the following day.

Next question is where did the Sabbath come from? Is this something that all of a sudden comes to us in the law of Moses? Do we suddenly read about it in the 10 commandments? No, actually it goes all the way back to creation. Here's a quote from Genesis, chapter 2. On the seventh day, God ended his work, which he had done. And he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had done. And God blessed the seventh day, and he sanctified it.

So way back at the time of creation, the pattern. Six and one, six and one, was established. Way before Moses. But when the children of Israel are taken out of the land of Egypt and brought through the wilderness, the Sabbath law is reintroduced and expanded. And here's an example.

While they were in the wilderness, this weird substance came from heaven and landed on the ground every morning. It was called manna. And the Bible says it looked like white coriander seed, but it tasted like wafers mixed with honey. So it was like the Krispy Kreme donuts in the Old Testament, on the ground, every day. The breakfast of champions.

This is how it would work, according to God's law. He said, six days, you shall gather it. And you only gather enough for one day. But on the sixth day, gather twice as much. Because God said, on the Sabbath , the seventh day, there won't be any on the ground.

So on the sixth day, you gather twice as much so that you can be at home, leisurely eating what you picked up the day before. Exodus 35 further expands it. The Lord says, don't even start a fire. Don't kindle a fire in any of your dwellings throughout the camp of Israel.

Now look at verse 10. We already read it. But you'll notice that on the Sabbath day, you're to take the day off. Your kids are to have the day off. Your employees are to have the day off. Even your pets get the day off. All of the animals don't work.

I heard a story about an angry church member who went up to his minister and said, I called you all day Monday and was unable to get through to you. The minister said, that's because I take Mondays off. And the church member said, What? What do you mean day off? You take the day off? Even the devil doesn't take the day off. And the minister said, you're right. And if I didn't take the day off, I'd be just like him.

So God says, you all take it off. Everybody takes it off in your dwelling. Something else about the Sabbath, since we're giving some background on it. I think it's also important. Did you know that the Sabbath law did not just include the Saturday Sabbath, it included special other days for Levitical feasts. They had the Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Tabernacles, and smattered throughout the year, besides the Saturday weekly Sabbath, there were special other Sabbath days.

For instance, this is Leviticus 23, the Feast of Trumpets. On the first day of the seventh month, you shall have a Shabbat, Sabbath, for the Feast of Tabernacles. We read, the feast shall be kept for seven days. The first day shall be a Sabbath to the Lord, and the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. So understand, the Sabbath was once a week and also other days throughout the year.

Oh, but wait. There's more. Not only was there Saturday and other days throughout the year, there was a Sabbath year. Did you know that? A Sabbath year. A whole year you were to take off. You go, sign me up for that one.

This is how it worked. Just like there was a pattern of six days and one day for rest, there was a pattern of six years and one year for rest. There's a week of years. That helps when we get to Daniel 9 especially, and the 70th week of Daniel. But this is how it was operated. God said, for six years, you work the land. You sow, you reap, you till. You take in.

But the seventh year, you hang out all year long. And God says, I'll so bless your endeavors in the land that all you have to do is go out and take whatever grows by itself. It's done for two purposes. Number one to keep people from depleting the minerals and the richness of the soil. Number two, to remind them that the land doesn't belong to them but it belongs to God.

Now why am I giving you all this background? Because sometimes you'll meet someone who will take great pride that they are Sabbath keepers. I keep the Sabbath. In contrast to you, who don't keep the Sabbath.

And I always ask, do you really keep the Sabbath? Oh, yes. Very, very adamant. It's God's commandment. OK? So that means you keep the Saturday Sabbath? That's right. And you keep those other days during the year? They go, what other days are those? And I'll remind them. And I'll say, it also means that once every seven years, you take the year off, right? You just live by faith? You just trust God for that year, and you don't do any work?

Well, no, I don't do that. I say, Well, that's part of the law too. That's part of God's pattern as well. Well, that was then. That didn't count. However, for God it counted. In fact, it counted very much that his people were to keep that sabbatic year as well as the day. Because did you know that one of the reasons the children of Israel were expelled from their land and taken to Babylon for 70 years is because they didn't do that?

That's right. They didn't take God seriously on the 70th-- or the seventh year. And for 490 years in the land, they disregarded this seventh-year process. So the Lord booted them out of the land. And this is why. This is 2 Chronicles 36. To fulfill the word of the Lord, until the land enjoyed it's Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate, she kept the Sabbath to fulfill 70 years. If you don't keep it for 490 years, that's 70 sabbatic years. You owe me 70. Bye. He took it seriously.

Well, look what God's people were told to do in verse 8. Here's the commandment. Remember the Sabbath. The Hebrew word zakar-- remember. Now what does that mean? Does that mean you just sit around and contemplate it. That mean you just let the thought come to your mind, oh, I remember. Today's Sabbath. There I kept the commandment. I remembered it. It came into my mind.

No, it must mean more than that. And it does. Joseph was in prison, and he told the cupbearer who was going to go back and work for Pharaoh-- he was restored to his position-- hey, when you get out of jail and you're working for Pharaoh, remember me. What did Joseph mean? Did he mean, while you're working for Pharaoh have fond thoughts of me one day. You know, call me to mind. Smile when you think about my name.

No, get me out of here. Remember me. The idea of this very strong command, and by the way, it is put in the Hebrew form called the infinite absolute. It's a very strong, positive, emphatic commandment. And it means to call to mind, to contemplate, or to ponder in order to elicit the proper response.

And what is the proper response? We're told in verse 8. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. That's what God wants us to do with the day. Keep it holy. Set this day aside as different from all other days in the week. Simply said, you might put it this way, God is saying, set a day apart for me. For me. To do whatever I want, what I love, what I like.

Question? How many of you are married today? Go ahead, don't be ashamed. Raise those hands up. Some do this, like-- OK, those that are married, how many of you have ever heard of or practice what's called a date night? A date night?

More hands should be up than that, but that's OK. And here's why it should be. A date night is a covenant that a husband and a wife make that say, as we grow and as life gets busy, and we have kids, and we have our careers, let's not neglect the bond that you and have. Let's reconnect. Let's nurture each other.

It's not about the kids tonight. That's a babysitter. It's not about other couples. It's about us. It's our date night. It's a night, or a time set apart, wholly, just for us. When my son Nathan was growing up, we had a day-- my wife invented the term-- she called it, an I love Nathan day.

And every time he heard this term, he lit up. My wife would say to Nathan, hey, you know what today is? He'd go, No, what? She said, it's an I love Nathan day. And his eyes would light up, and he got so excited, because this is what it meant.

On that day, Nathan could pick where we go to lunch, what activity we do, what store we go to look at stuff. It was all about what he wanted to do. The Sabbath day is the I love God day. God picks the activity. It's all about him. It's what he likes. It's what he loves. And he's to be honored.

Back in 1924, Eric Little ran the Olympics in Paris. Now you'll recall Eric Little if you saw the movie, "Chariots of Fire." And I told a story last night, and I didn't do his imitation, his voice, so some people felt slighted. But he was the guy in the movie who was called to be in the ministry, but he also had a gift of running.

And he said to his sister during the movie, Jenny, I know God made me for a purpose. But he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure. OK, so anyway, that aside, that's the guy who said, no, no, no, no, no. You don't have to clap at that. It's just a goofy little thing that I do, and people sort of expect it now.

Anyway-- his strongest run was the 100 meter. Here was the problem. In 1924, in Paris, during the Olympics, the heat was run on Sunday. Eric Little refused to run. He wouldn't do it. He backed out of the race. The day the heat was going on, he was preaching in a church.

A few days later he announced he would run the 400 meter. People who knew the race and knew him, what he had trained for, said, you don't have a chance in heaven to win that race. Not only did he run the race, he won the gold medal and broke the world record. And he said, I honored God. Therefore God is honoring me with this race.

Well, it's sort of strange, but as time went on, this commandment got weird. That's right. The commandment to rest actually became laborious, hard to keep. And here's why. When the children of Israel came back into the land after the captivity, they were so gun shy, they didn't want to hurt God or break any of the commandments, they developed a list of 39 activities you could not do on the Sabbath, else you'd break it.

You say, well, that's just a list of 39. Well those 39 translated into 24 chapters written in the Babylonian Talmud that was a discussion of what you can and can't do on the Sabbath. For instance, the law says you can't bear a burden. Lift something heavy on the Sabbath. So they had paragraph and page after page of what it meant to bear a burden on the Sabbath.

Questions like, can you lift a lamp? You know, I've got a problem. It's dark, and I have a candle, and I want to see what's in that room. Can I lift the lamp and walk into the room? Or am I breaking the Sabbath by bearing a burden?

Can a woman wear a brooch, a pin, a decoration on her dress? Because maybe she's bearing a burden by putting that on. Can a person wear artificial teeth on the Sabbath? I didn't make that up. That's in the Babylonian Talmud. I'm sure the false teeth weren't that great looking 4,000 years ago, but they talked about it.

What about if my child cries and I need to pick up my son or daughter. Am I bearing a burden? All of this was deliberated on and talked about. So can you see? They lost the very idea of the Sabbath rest. After keeping the Sabbath, they needed a vacation. It was hard.

No wonder Jesus finally said, look, the Sabbath was made for man. Man wasn't made for the Sabbath. They had so twisted it over time it became easier to work six days than to rest one. So God's people were called to remember the Sabbath. Call to mind. Contemplate. Recall. In order that it might elicit the proper response of setting it aside as totally for the Lord.

So let me encourage you, remember it. You say, well, I try. How do I remember it? How do you remember anything? If you're like me, you've got to write it down. How about that? Write that down in your appointment book. Hang out. Chill out. Veg out all day long. Write it into your schedule.

Now look at the very next verse. Remembrance is commanded, but there's also a responsibility that is implied and conveyed and even commanded by the next verse. Six days you shall labor and do all of your work. So verse 8, God allocates time for enjoyment. Verse 9, God allocates time for employment. Remember to rest. You need a vacation, but remember to work, you need a vocation. So that when you take the day of rest, it really is something that is different.

In the Bible, work is commended. Hard work, even labor, is exalted, not put down. Sometimes people will say, well, you know, work is part of the curse. No, it's not. Work is not part of the curse. It's the laborious toil that comes from God cursing the earth. Remember, cursed is the ground for your sake. In labor, you shall eat of it.

It's not the work that is a curse. God put man in the garden to tend it, to keep it, to work at it. Listen to Ecclesiastes chapter 3. To every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to plant, a time to pluck what is planted. A time to build up, a time to tear down. A time to cast away stones. A time to gather, a time to sew. All of those activities are what? Work. Work.

And then, when we get to the New Testament, it seems that there were some people in certain Christian churches that felt that they were called to veg in the spirit. That's right. God called them to cruise-a-matic all day long. And they were a blight to the church, because they came in and they wanted support for it.

So Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians, we gave you this rule. If a man doesn't work, neither should he eat. So laziness is never condoned in the scripture. Hard work and diligence always is. In fact, you'll remember in Proverbs where Solomon says, go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise. And there's a whole list of insects and animals that work hard in preparation.

I heard about a lazy kid who said, I always do my exercises every morning. As soon as I wake up, I go at it. Up, down, up, down, up, down. I do that for three minutes straight. And then I tell myself, OK, now for the other eyelid. Up, down, up, down, up, down.

Somebody once said, I love hard work. I can sit and watch it for hours. Well, God says, don't sit and watch it for hours. Do it for six days, and on the seventh, rest. So God directs his people to take a vacation, one day a week. But to have a vocation for six days a week.

How do you like your job? Don't answer out loud. I ask the question because there's a book out called, "Working." Now I don't know how many people would look at this book and say, I've got to read that. But it's called, "Working," and it's by a guy named Studs Terkel, whose written several books.

In this book, the author interviews hundreds of people in America as to what they do and how they feel about what they do. And this is what he writes. He says, there is a common theme. Most people live somewhere between a grudging acceptance of their job and an active dislike of it. At best, most people tolerate it. At worst, a lot of people hate it.

Which brings me to this question. How should a Christian work? What is the work ethic for the believer in the workplace? Should we be lazy? Should mediocrity, just getting the job done and getting out on time, be our motto?

Well, it says in verse 9, you shall labor and do all your work. I know you might think, I do it. I get it done. How should you do it? Ephesians 6, verse 7 answers that. Work with enthusiasm. As though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

I remember reading this when I was going to work in the secular field years ago, and I'd come in on a Monday morning whistling. Just kind of chugging around the office, and I got the dirtiest looks from people. Like how dare you get happy on Monday? Everybody was grumpy. I thought, you know what? A happy diligent worker doesn't have a whole lot of competition. And a Christian ought to be that kind of an employee.

Workers in America admit to spending 20% of their time at work goofing off. If I get that right, in an average workweek of five days, that's an entire day. And that's what they admit to. There was an employee who died and went to heaven and complained to St. Peter. You know all the dumb jokes have Peter at the gate with the clipboard.

And so the guy died. He goes to heaven. He complains. He goes, you must have made a mistake. I shouldn't be here. I'm too young to die. I'm only 35. And Peter checked the records, came back, and said, now, according to the hourly work reports that you've been turning in, you're 97.

Twenty percent of the time, Americans admit to goofing off. As a believer, you and I ought to have the very best work ethic, so that those six days are the most productive possible. Here's the point then, of this message today. Life consists of balance.

Vocation, vacation. Hard work and rest. Responsibility and hanging out. Work is good. Commitment is good. Overwork is bad. Overcommitment is bad. And if you're the kind who brags about breaking this commandment, I haven't had a day off in so many years-- I feel sorry for your family or anybody that tries to get close to you.

In Nehemiah chapter 13-- this will be the last verse I'll quote this morning before we pray-- the children of Israel are coming back from captivity. Rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. This is what the prophet Nehemiah noted, in those days, I saw people in Judah treading the wind presses on the Sabbath and bringing in sheaves and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens with which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah. And I said to them, what evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day. Did not your father's do thus? Did not our God bring on all this disaster upon us and on this city? Yet, you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.

See the problem? They were working on the day they should have been worshipping. So God allocates time for employment, but also for enjoyment. So take the day. Take the day. Take all day and rest. Say, but Skip, you haven't told us what day yet.

Well, next week I will. And the answer may surprise you actually. But take the day. Recharge, renew, be refreshed. In body and in spirit. There was a mom who was taking her kids to school. She was speeding. She got pulled over by a police officer. Police officer gave her a warning. Told her to stay under the speed limit.

She never had done that. She always loved to speed. Get her kids barely on time. So she pulls out of where she had been pulled over very slowly, waving at the police officer, and staying the speed limit. And as they're going along, she said, what is that noise? And one of the boys said, that's the noise of slow. We've never heard that sound before.

Some of you need to hear that sound. You need to hear it once a week. In fact, I'm going back to this owner's manual for my car. Listen to what it says. Your dealer may recommend more frequent maintenance intervals or more maintenance services than those listed in the scheduled maintenance law.

So I don't know when the last time you heard this in a sermon, but chill out. Relax. And that's an order. Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your 10 commandments. And we thank you for the tender commandment. You and your tender grace and mercy have given us instruction, admonition, yea, even a command, a directive to take a day and rest. And also a command those other six days to work hard as like we're working for God himself.

I pray that we would be very productive. I pray that we would be hard, diligent workers, reflecting a creative and diligent Creator, but then also reflecting your image, taking time to be renewed, refreshed, in Jesus' name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/15/2007
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God's Top Ten List
Exodus 19-20
Skip Heitzig
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Today as we begin a new series of studies on the Ten Commandments - God's Laws which transcend time and culture. Think of it - of all the things that could be considered as the most important precepts for life, these are the ones God picked! These truths were designed to elevate our lives above a mere animal existence and provide a blueprint for a purposeful life.
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7/22/2007
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First Things First
Exodus 20:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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The first four commandments are vertical ones: they define our relationship to God. The second six are horizontal: they define our relationship to others. The first commandment on God's "top ten" is the most basic building block for anyone who would claim or seek any relationship to God at all. Every one of God's requirements for mankind flows from His character and nature as Sovereign God. So why is God so exclusive? And why is this the most important command?
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7/29/2007
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Have You Seen God Lately? – Part 1
Exodus 20:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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Children ask uncomfortable questions like, "How big is God? Where does He live? Why can’t I see Him? Does He ever come out and play?" We adults hem and haw trying to find answers because we want to know the same things! Unfortunately we don't always have good answers. The first commandment on God’s Top Ten was to ensure that people worship Him exclusively; the second commandment was to ensure that people worship Him correctly.
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8/5/2007
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Have You Seen God Lately? – Part 2
Exodus 20:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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The second commandment was given so that God's people would worship Him correctly, in the way He directed rather than in the way they wanted to worship. God's uniqueness requires unique devotion. Today we discover how we best leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren—by worshiping the right God in the right way.
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8/12/2007
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God Is Not a Swear Word
Exodus 20:7
Skip Heitzig
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Most folks haven't a clue as to what this third commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, means. Most guesses would make it to say, "Don’t say bad words!" It may infer that in part, but goes to a much deeper level. Notice the progression of emphasis in the commandments so far: 1st, What we believe about God; 2nd, How we worship God, and 3rd, What we say about God. It's sobering to think that the use of our mouth is the concern of the third in God's Top Ten!
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8/26/2007
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Relax! - And That's an Order! Part 2
Exodus 20:8-11
Skip Heitzig
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Has the Sabbath Day been changed? Is Sunday the New Sabbath? Are those who worship on Sunday guilty of compromise and succumbing to paganism? Does it even matter? What about those who whose jobs require them to work on Saturday or Sunday? All these questions and more have become the controversy that surrounds this fourth commandment. The real issue however is much more basic and spiritual: Do you honor God by worshipful rest, expressing thankfulness to Him and becoming refreshed so you can serve Him the rest of the week?
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9/9/2007
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Because I Said So! - Part 1
Exodus 20:12
Skip Heitzig
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Every child has challenged a parent with the question, "Why," only to hear the response, "Because I said so!" This commandment deals with both authority and submission. But there's something much deeper and more profound than mere compliance to a parent's mandate. The commandment implies the supreme value of a godly and healthy family. Today and next week we will consider this fifth commandment and what it means in a culture that is defiant towards it.
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9/16/2007
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Because I Said So! - Part 2
Exodus 20:12
Skip Heitzig
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A couple on the way to the hospital to have their second child heard their 6-year old son say, "Be sure and get a receipt, so if it’s a girl, we can return her!" But we know children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). We don’t return them. Nor can we exchange our parents for other ones. The ones we have are the ones we must obey and honor, or we must learn to. A child contributes to the health and happiness of the home by the act of obeying and the attitude of honoring.
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9/23/2007
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Getting Away With Murder
Exodus 20:13
Skip Heitzig
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People are getting away with murder every day! I don't just mean the violent, premeditated and vicious slaying of innocent lives but also by deep seated attitudes of hatred and spite. Murder has always been a problem with our race but there's something much deeper and more profound than the act of taking a life. Today and next week we will examine this commandment and it’s ramifications into several areas of society.
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9/30/2007
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A Time To Kill?
Exodus 20:13
Skip Heitzig
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You are alive! You will die! Those two absolutes are as basic as it gets. But since life is a gift from the Creator, what right does anyone ever have in taking it from another? One of the commandments on God’s Top Ten list is, "Thou shalt not kill!" Is there ever a time to kill? Does the justice system of a land or an army ever have the right to kill? How can we as responsible Christians ever come to a balance regarding this very difficult issue?
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10/7/2007
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Weeds of Unfaithfulness in the Garden of Love
Exodus 20:14
Skip Heitzig
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"You shall not commit adultery," is God's way of putting a protective hedge around marriage. Every married couple needs to tend the garden of their love. That means of course pulling out the weeds that would lead to unfaithful behavior. Many a married couple has been "burned" by the fire of Adultery. The flame of passion must burn only for one's spouse. Let's consider how our marriages can stay "Adultery-proof."
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10/14/2007
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Bandits, Beware!
Exodus 20:15
Skip Heitzig
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It is estimated that 90% of our total population has shoplifted at some point in their lives. Maybe it was a piece of candy with a school friend or a magazine when no one was looking in our adolescence. But some people never stop and with everyone, it seems the lines of right and wrong are getting fuzzier rather than clearer. Let’s get a fresh look at this age old mandate.
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10/28/2007
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The Truth, the Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth!
Exodus 20:16
Skip Heitzig
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Myron Boyd wrote, "A half-truth is a dangerous thing, especially if you have got hold of the wrong half!" I’d venture to say that we have a whole lot of half-truths bouncing around in our brains that we’ve picked up without ever trying to find out the rest. The ninth commandment is about telling the truth, the whole truth. We’ll find that this mandate infers at least three things.
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11/4/2007
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Affluenza!
Exodus 20:17
Skip Heitzig
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No it's not a typo! Affluenza is a social malady that has reached epic proportions in our country. Its germs infect the very young and its symptoms recur even in old age. Solomon nailed it 3000 years ago when he said, "No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied!" (Ecclesiastes 1:8). This last commandment is a different from the other nine in that it probes the heart and touches on our desires. It deals with what we want, not just what we do. This week and next we'll probe what is perhaps our culture's biggest problem.
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11/11/2007
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Affluenza! - Its Cure
Exodus 20:17
Skip Heitzig
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Affluenza is a highly contagious social and spiritual condition that is result of over-abundance. The cause of this malady of the soul is covetousness, the very thing the tenth commandment forbids. So what is the cure? What is the spiritual antidote to this widespread illness? It is a lifestyle of contentment--the satisfaction that God knows my needs and provides for them.
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11/18/2007
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The Eleventh Commandment
John 13:34-35
Skip Heitzig
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"Now hold on just one minute! There are only TEN commandments, not eleven!" Correct, but listen as Jesus sums up the commandments of the Old Testament with the New Testament directive of "loving one another." As believers under the New Covenant, our study of God's Top Ten would be incomplete without this authoritative addendum by the Lord Jesus Christ.
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There are 16 additional messages in this series.