SIGNS OF THE TIMES SERMON SERIES
“YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY” – MAKING TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST
MARCH 24, 1996
One of the most recognizable phrases in advertising history is “You deserve a break today.” McDonald’s popularized this slogan and catchy tune years ago. I thought we might sing it together. “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away, to McDonald’s.” That’s very good. You guys sing a lot better than the 9 o’clock and the Saturday evening crowd. As long as that commercial ran on the air, you would think that McDonald’s would have been taken to court over using that phrase. Few people realize it but they were at risk for being sued for plagiarism. The advertising executives at this huge corporation copied this phrase from a publication, a copy of which is resting on this plexiglass lectern, the Bible. That’s right. McDonald’s copied “you deserve a break today” from God. God said it a long time ago. God said, “We all deserve a break today for the purpose of making time for what matters the most.”
I am in a series entitled THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES. We have been looking at popular slogans, Just Do It; Life’s Short, Play Hard; Whoever Dies With The Most Toys Wins. Today, You Deserve a Break. We are going to talk about and answer the question, how to make time for what matters the most.
The word leisure comes from a Latin term which means to be permitted. If we are going to understand the benefits of taking a break, we have to give ourselves permission for leisure, permission to take a break. And the Bible gives us this permission in the Book of Exodus, chapter 20 beginning with verse 8. The Bible says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.” After reading a couple of verses like that from God’s Word, we ought to take a step back and say, what an awesome God we have. God is so good, He is so creative, He is so thoughtful. He has given us human labor, a place where we can use our talents and gifts in specific endeavors in the marketplace. God is something else. Also, though, with the gift of human labor, we have taken it and twisted it and distorted it and we have workaholism. We have people who are burned out, stressed out and freaked out because they can’t get away from work.
A recent study by OCEA says that stress on the American work force costs our nation over 100 billion dollars a year. In the 90s, fatigue is one of the top five reasons why we call the physician. And God knew that we had this tendency to relegate our entire lives to work, so our great God has built into our calendar 52 mini-vacations a year. So we should thank God for work but also thank God for being able to take these 52 mini-vacations a year. This text is a command. It is not open for debate. God says, “Take time off. Work six days and then take a break. I want you to burn on without burning out.” He knows that too many of us are overwhelmed and overworked in our jobs. Our God says, “Do your labor a favor.” I want to tell you from God’s Word why God wants us to take a break regularly. Number one, it builds our bodies. Production analysts have been telling us that when we take a break after a 40 hour work week, it really gives us a chance to readjust and recalibrate physically. Do you ever feel worn out physically after work? I do. After speaking four times in a weekend, I am wasted. I am physically tired. Jesus recognized the physical limitations of human beings. In the Gospels one day Jesus said, “Hey, disciples, I can see you are tired, let’s leave this place and go on a mini-vacation together. Let’s relax. Let’s go fishing. Let’s have a picnic. Let’s talk. Let’s share.” Physically we need a break. And if we take a break at least once every six days, it will strengthen our bodies.
Secondly, we should take a break because it strengthens our spirit. Throughout the Bible, God has told us to come together regularly, weekly in large groups to worship Him corporately. That is why we have church. In the Old Testament the Israelites first worshipped in the tent, then in the tabernacle. In the New Testament Christ’s followers began to worship on the first day of the week, because that is the Resurrection day. The Sabbath was moved from the last day of the week to the first day of the week. Jesus went to the synagogue regularly, the Bible says, as was His custom. We are to worship God. We are to go to church. We are to be connected into a local Body of Christ. God knows we need to change our scenery. We need to get out of the office, out of the truck, out of the board room, out of the classroom and into the church, to rub shoulders with people who are seeking God, to be under the authority of God’s word, to hear it, to be challenged, to be changed, to be motivated, to be stimulated. Great things happen in our lives when we worship God and make that a priority. We are strengthened spiritually.
Also, our emotions are enriched when we take a break regularly. For many of us, after a work week, our emotional tanks are pegged in the red. We are running on empty. We just don’t feel together. And if we do this for awhile, if we work and work and work and work and never take a break, we lose focus and then because emotionally our tanks are depleted, we are open to temptations that normally we would never be open to. The evil one, Satan, came in and began to tempt Jesus after He fasted and was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, after He was tired physically and emotionally. You see Satan is looking for a little daylight in your life and mine, he is looking for a little toe hold. He is the ultimate rock climber and he climbs into your life and my life and he loves it when we are emotionally down, because our defenses are relaxed.
Are you worshipping God regularly? Are you taking a break regularly? Are you connected into a local church? You know, the people who church hop and church shop frustrate the leadership of this Fellowship. There is no way we can build a church for you. A lot of people in the United States, and only in this country does it really happen, church hop and shop. What is hot? What is not? Who is teaching here? Who is singing there? You never really connect, you never really make our spiritual roots germinate within the local church. Our leadership feels sorry for you. Not because we want to have a bigger church. Good night, we have 3,000 people on a weekend and we have people sitting in the aisles. That is wonderful and great. We feel sorry for you not because we want our church to get any bigger, we feel sorry for you because we wonder what is going to happen when your world caves in? What is going to happen when the relationship is busted up? What is going to happen when death enters the equation? What is going to happen when you get laid off? Who are you going to turn to? If you are church hopping and shopping and bopping and not connecting into a local fellowship, who is going to support you and lift you up and encourage you? Another reason why God says that He wants you to take a break at least every six days is for you to stop working and start worshipping and refocus and understand who you are and why He made you the way He did. In other words, we have got to recognize God’s rhythm. That is the first way that we make time for what matters the most. We have got to recognize God’s rhythm. And I will read on about God’s rhythm. Read Exodus 20:11. Before I read this verse, let me tell you God’s rationale. Verses 8, 9 and 10 are commands to us. God says to stop working, start worshipping, take a break every six days. And God knew that we would say, “OK, God, give me an example. Give me a word picture.” And God said, “OK, I’ll give you myself as an example.” Look at verse 11. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth….but He rested on the seventh day.” Did God need to rest? No. Omniscience doesn’t need to take a break. Omnipotence never gets tired. He was doing this to model, to set an example for you and for me. God says, “I’ll be the example. I worked, then I rested.” And this rhythm is built into the very fabric and framework of who we are. Oftentimes I will take our family to Chili’s. And Chili’s is kind of a loud restaurant. It fits our family well. We’re talking, conversing and above the clatter and the chatter I like to listen to the music. I have a pretty good sense of rhythm. I used to play the drums awhile back. I will be listening to the beat and say, “Lisa, hear that? You know what song it is?” She says, “All I can hear is the beat.” I said, “I’ve got the beat. Lisa, it’s obvious. That song is by Hootie and the Blow Fish.” And she will listen and realize that it is. “Hey, that’s something, Ed.” I say, “Thank you, thank you.” I recognize the rhythm. And that is what God is saying to you and to me right here in the 90s. God is saying, “Recognize My rhythm.” Here is God’s rhythm. One, two, three, four, five, six, rest. One, two, three, four, five, six, rest. It is not a wipeout. That is not it. And too many of us here would be characterized as working like we are playing wipeout. I love what Ephesians 5:1 says. “Be imitators of God.” The word imitators in the original language is pronounced “mimoyi”. We get the word mimic from it. Every time mimoyi is used in the Bible, it is always used in the continuous tense. In other words, we don’t just mimic God once a month or once a week or once a year, it is every single day. And God says, “Work hard, use your gifts in ministry, in the marketplace and then, after you have worked six days, take a break. Recognize the rhythm.”
The second was that we are to make time for what matters the most is to make the most of the mundane. You see, life is lived more on the planes of the mundane than on the mountain tops of majesty. Every average, normal day, is made up of this the mundane stuff. It separates people who make the most with their time from those who don’t. And here is a secret. If we spend time with the Lord Jesus Christ and we give Him honor and praise regularly, the Bible says that He has a way of multiplying our time. We can make the most of the mundane moments.
- S. News and World Report says the average American during his lifetime will spend six years eating, five years waiting in line, four years unsuccessfully returning phone calls, two years looking for misplaced objects, one year doing housework and eight months opening junk mail. Those are mundane moments, aren’t they? If we are going to multiply our time, and most of us want to do that, we have got to say, “OK, God, I want to connect with You because You are the author of time. You have given me 1,440 minutes in this day, 168 hours a week. You have mentioned the word time 771 times in Your Word. It must be important.” Time is the most valuable commodity we have. It is bought, it is sold, it is traded. We have got to use it the way God wants us to use it. Many of us have a tough time with time because we are not giving God His time. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:24, “An intelligent person aims at wise action….” Aims means to target something and the great thing about being a Christian is, our targets are already set forth for us in the Bible. We don’t have to debate and worry about what our priorities should be. First, the Bible says to target a relationship with Christ, pursue that. We have many here who know Christ personally and that is great. Some here are seeking and that is great. Make sure you settle this issue.
The second target the Bible talks about is our relationship with our family and friends. On Easter I am beginning a six week series on the family and I challenge you to be here for the next six weeks. I am going to talk about the family like I have never talked about it before. This is especially relevant for the singles and the single parent families here. So don’t miss this series on the priority of family.
The third target the Bible talks about is our life work, the marketplace, our job, the specific profession God has called you to and called me to. Those are our priorities. So when a decision comes down the pike we should say, “All right, I will filter it through what God says about it, what my family says about it, and how it will affect my work. It is as simple as that. “An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions.” The key word is target. Are you targeting? Make the most of the mundane.
The third way to make time for what matters the most is, know when to say no. The inability to say no is a priority predator. Some of us are afraid of the little two letter word. No. Can you say no? We have to say no because there is a bigger yes beneath the no. Question. Did Jesus ever say no? You better believe it. He said no all the time. And if you are not saying no regularly, daily, then you will never accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. We have to say no to good stuff, and yes to the best. Proverbs 12:11. “…it is stupid to waste time on useless projects.” It is stupid. Mark 6:31, here is what Jesus did. Jesus said no. “Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” Jesus had to say no to the people. He didn’t heal everyone. He didn’t teach everyone. He said, “No, I have got to get away. I have got to take a break today with the people who are closest to me.”
When Jesus was twelve years old, He said, “I have got to be about My Father’s business. When He was thirty-three and was dying on the cross for our sins He said right before He died, “It is finished. I have completed My purpose.” Talk about a focused life. From twelve years of age until thirty-three, Jesus did it. He was the most productive man ever. But He did it because He knew when to say no. Are you saying no? Is it a regular occurrence? The Bible is not saying to shout no angrily. Just calmly say no. Have you ever had someone ask you to go to a party, or do an event, or speak to a certain client and although you want to say no, you answer, “Oh, I would love to.” Then you wonder why you ever said what you did. We have got to say no without an excuse, without a lie, without an explanation, just no. Or, if you have a hard time saying no, say that you need to check your schedule. That will let you buy some time before you go back and say no. Too many of us are characterized by the tyranny of the urgent. We get spread out so thin that we lose our focus.
Number four. This will hurt here. Turn off the technology. We need to recognize our rhythm, make the most of the mundane, know when to say no and turn off the technology. We live in a word infiltrated by technology.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people…” Circle the word ignorant. Think about people who grew up about fifty years ago. Maybe your grandparents. Your grandparents, when they were young, did not have faxes to return once they got home. Cell phones and E mail did not interrupt supper. Home was not some data gathering place for work the next day. Home was home. It was a place where they could get away, make time for their family. They could make time for what matters the most. These days, though, we can’t get away from beepers, lap tops and our beautiful, lovely cell phones. We take our cell phones and beepers with us everywhere. To Disney World. To the Rangers game. Even to church! We have been doing four services here for the last couple of years and at least once a weekend, I will hear a beeper go off. Last Saturday evening a cell phone rang in the middle of the service. I said, “Excuse me, is that call for me?” Turn off the technology. A lot of us say, “Well, I’m not at work.” But we have so many wires and gadgets hooked to ourselves, we look like Mr. Spock. So technically we are not at work, but we really are at work and we are working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 1,440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week all the time. I think that technology is great, it is wonderful. But we have got to unplug the computer, push the power button on the cell phone and turn off the television.
This has been a very real thing in my life because a couple of weeks ago one of our four children dropped our TV remote and busted it into a zillion pieces. So, we priced a replacement. Check this out. It was over $100 to replace our remote. I decided that I would not pay $100 for a remote since this was the second time one of the kids had dropped it. So, here is what we do. We just now turn the television on one channel. And after a while it gets boring and since I am a man who, like other men, channel surf all the time, I just turn the television off. It has given us more opportunity to talk to each other, to play together, to read together. We have gotten more accomplished now that we have been forced to turn off the television. That is the challenge today. Be still, turn off all the racket, cut the wires and just for a little while everyday spend time with the people that matter most to you. Build stuff into their lives. They will build stuff into your life and watch what happens. Your time will be used in a phenomenal way. Are you turning off the technology? Men, that means to do an ESPN fast. Even during the final four, now and then. I’ll stop there, I have started to meddle.
Number five. We have got to learn to laugh. When I said laugh, some of you were wondering where in the Bible laughter was mentioned. You mean the Bible commands laughter? It sure does. Joy and laughter is mentioned over and over again. I intend to do a message on this whole subject one day. But just briefly, I want to tell you why most of us don’t know how to laugh. We don’t know how to laugh primarily because we take ourselves too seriously. We are serious about ourselves and about life. And there is a time to be serious, there is also a time to laugh.
I have one of the most serious jobs in the world, being a pastor. Every week I deal with life in the raw; depression, divorce, death. It is easy to let that get you down and sometimes I do feel down. But I say to myself, “Self, I am still going to laugh and have a good time with life.” I was hesitant about going into the ministry because most ministers I knew looked like they held a night job at a local mortuary. “Hi, is your name Ed Young? Great, brother. Welcome to the ministry.” I thought to myself, “Oh man, I don’t want any part of that.” We have got to be people who love joy, people who laugh. We take ourselves too seriously.
Secondly, we don’t take God seriously enough. God says stuff like this in His word. Job 8:21. “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Proverbs 14:30 LB. “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life…” You know what research says. It says that when we laugh more T cells are released, more immune factors are kicked in, our entire muscular system just chills out. The Bible says that laughter lengthens our lives. Are you laughing? If you are not laughing weekly, I mean a loud, bellowing, deep laugh, something is messed up.
Speaking of laughter and laughing about yourself, last weekend was a tough weekend for me because I turned thirty-five. After the Saturday night service some friends of mine kind of kidnapped me and took me to a restaurant for my birthday. I did get to choose the restaurant, Cafe Natura. Now most of you if you know me well know that I watch my diet pretty closely. I am not a purist. I don’t eat and drink vegetables and carrot juice every meal, but I do eat like that a lot. That is why I chose Cafe Natura, because all the fat grams are out there in the menu and everything is healthy. You know I tell my wife often, “Lisa, don’t ever buy anything that is processed, with nitrites and especially, Lisa, stay away from baloney. It will kill you.” Well the other day I walk in while the children are having lunch. Although I didn’t think that any of our children had ever seen baloney, LeeBeth had seen some at school and requested that her mother buy some. When I saw Lisa putting baloney on bread with mustard, I said, “Lisa, what are you doing? You are going to kill our children. Baloney is horrible for you.” She kind of started laughing at the time and later told some of my friends about the event.
Well, I have some mean friends. You will see what happened. We drive to Cafe Natura in the West End. You know, Cafe Natura is one of those cool restaurants. Everyone in there has pony tails and is wearing at least four or five earrings. That’s cool. We sit down at the table, all of us, we are kind of loud. We are talking. I didn’t know it but one of my friends had smuggled a big slab of baloney into the restaurant. He took the baloney back to the chef and request that whenever that skinny guy orders his birthday meal, put the baloney into it. The meal is brought to us and people at the table started to laugh. I looked around and asked why everyone was laughing. Oh, somebody said something funny. OK. So we bow to have a prayer. Now Cafe Natura is a place that you can pray because the meal is healthy for you. There are many restaurants here in the area where you cannot pray, especially you cannot say, “God, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.” I mean you have chicken fried steak, french fries, etc. God is not going to do that. But He will bless health food to the nourishment of your body. And that is why people who live over in the Middle East live so long. They eat healthy. That is a whole other story.
So I said the prayer. We were having a good time and I began to eat. Here is what I ordered, red snapper tacos. So they had the baloney, not red snapper, in there. I didn’t know it. They were all watching me. I take big, old bites because I have a giant mouth. I was saying to everyone, “Man, this is unbelievable. This snapper is sliced so thin, it is incredible.” They were just about to die laughing. So they let me eat 90% of this soft taco. Finally, they say, “Ed, look inside. It is baloney.” And my stomach did an immediate double flip. Anyway I just about died laughing. So you have got to learn how to laugh at yourself. If you are not doing that, you have got to start. And I felt so good after laughing at myself. I do a lot of dumb things, as you know, so I get a lot of practice.
I want you to take the outline from your bulletin. See those five sentences that have to do with making time for what matters the most. I want you to take the outline home. Regarding the first one, Recognize Our Rhythm, I want you to say, “God, am I recognizing Your rhythm?” Just be bold open and candid with God. Take a notebook and pencil and say, “God, am I really recognizing the rhythm that You built into me? Am I taking off at least once a week without doing any work, no calls to clients, handing out no business cards. I am enjoying You and enjoying recreation. Am I doing that at least once a week?” Ask God that. Then ask someone who is very close to you. “Am I doing this?” And then say, “Hold me accountable.” Maybe it should be your spouse, maybe your co-worker, maybe your neighbor, maybe someone in your Bible study class or small group.
Referring to the second one, Make The Most Of The Mundane, ask God that. “God, am I taking advantage of moments in the car? Am I just listening to music all the time? Or can I listen to tapes that will encourage me or read books when I am standing in line? Am I making the most of the mundane? Am I spending time with You daily to multiply my time throughout the day?” Again, ask God that, ask someone close to you and have them keep you accountable.
Number three. Know When To Say No. Are your regularly saying no? Talk to God about it and someone close to you about it. Same thing with Turn Off The Technology and the Laugh Quotient. You do this and use this as a little check list, as a homework assignment this week and I am going to promise you something. You will be able to use your time in a fabulous way. The next time you pass by McDonald’s, you will say, “Hey, I know you didn’t come up with that phrase, God did and I am doing what God said. I am taking a break and I am loving it.”