Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LEVITICUS: Stop the Ordinary Work (4 of 5)

Usually when we think of pleasing God, we think of doing things for Him: serving Him, singing to Him, striving to do good things for Him... As I read through Leviticus this month, I noticed again another powerful truth: a huge part of pleasing and worshiping God is knowing when to STOP doing things, even good things.

Even those of us who have an understanding of the Sabbath day of rest that God requires of us, have a hard time really knowing how to apply it. Notice this phrase that continually repeats in Leviticus:
  • "On the seventh day the people must stop all their ordinary work..." (23:8, NLT)
  • "That same day (Festival of Harvest) will be proclaimed an official day for holy assembly, a day on which you do no ordinary work." (23:21)
  • "On the first day of the seventh month... you must do no ordinary work... (23:23-25)
  • "Do not work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement..." (23:28)
  • "On the first day of the festival (of Shelters)... do no ordinary work." (23:35)
  • "The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest." (23:40)
One of the healthiest things we can do in life is have days set apart to do no ORDINARY WORK. It doesn't mean we don't do any work, or lay around and be lazy. It means we change scenarios, we do something different, we get new perspective.

God knows how easy it is for us to get stuck in a rut and how easy it is for us to get so busy that we no longer enjoy life. That's why he built in days of rest (no ordinary work) in every Festival and in several seasons of life for the Israelites.

The Day of Rest is also a foreshadowing of the ultimate REST (peace) we would receive from Jesus (see my post on "entering God's rest"). Many people miss out on that REST also, because they never take the time off their ordinary work to think about life... to align themselves with their God-given purpose... to realign their lives with God's will.

Here are principles that have been helping me this year in applying this:
  • If your ordinary work is with your hands (manual labor...), then find ways to rest with your mind (read a book...)
  • If your ordinary work is with your mind (accounting, computers...), then rest by engaging in activities with your hands (clean the house, build something, go on a hike...)
  • Take at least one full day off work a week to reconnect with God. Don't worry about DOING anything for Him, just BE with Him.
  • Schedule one day a month to reflect on your work, to plan for the future, to evaluate your performance. Resurface...
Part of the reason I believe God asks us to develop a rhythm of rest in our lives is so that we would learn to trust Him. Trust that having His blessing is more important than accomplishing things with our own strength. Trust that He is ultimately the one producing the fruit of our lives, not us. It's out way of telling Him, "yes I trust you".

Do we believe that we can do more in 6 days with God's blessing and favor, then in 7 days without it? Try worshiping by "stopping the ordinary work"...
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