Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

“Busy” is the hallmark of our times. I’ve lost count of how many times I ask people, “How are you doing?” and the answer comes back – ‘Oh, I’m just soooooo Busy”. ‘I haven’t got a moment to myself’. It’s almost like our busyness has become a ‘badge of honour’ – a medal for us to wear.

We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with hurry.  We are frazzled, overwhelmed, & bewildered. Truth is we are addicted to noise

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy 

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

It was a story  about a day in the life of a man who had experienced all he could take of the pressures, disappointments, & and inconveniences of life. He experiences mounting anxiety as he endures a traffic jam (caused by construction), suffers the oppression of inflated prices at a local store (owned by a foreigner), and is put through indignities of poor service (with a smile) at a fast food restaurant.

These everyday frustrations, combined with a sense of being disconnected from his family (the result of a recent divorce), & the loss of his job, all culminate on this fateful day to push him over the edge!

As a result of all these pressures, his normal, healthy logic & rationale are suspended, & he resorts to violence, murder, & blowing things up!

John 16:33 Amplified – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

How many of us feel like that? Let’s take a group quiz to see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:

I’m ready to throw in the… I’m at the end of my…

I’m just a bundle of… My life is falling…

I’m at my wit’s… I feel like resigning from the human…

Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. Just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat.

Philippians 4:7 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We are living in Overload

IF there is one term that describes the state of affairs in the lives of people today, it is OVERLOAD. We are Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overcommitted, Overanxious, Overmatched, and Overextended. Our tanks are on empty and we’re running on fumes.

Our world has become the world of the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! “A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” 

Weariness is a trap. 

(Luke 21:34 NIV) “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” 

Rest is a choice. 

(Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT) So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. 

Rest is not a physical position but a spiritual condition and It is Commanded by God

Leviticus 23:3 “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a 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.”

(Exodus 33:13-16 NIV) “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

God’s message is plain: “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.”

(Matthew 11:28- NIV) “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.” 

How To Take it Easy

Hebrews 4:11 (GWT) So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.

Mark 6:30-31 NIV The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, 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.” 

1. Relax and Be still. 

Psalm 46:10 NIV “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop. The state or an instance of being quiet or calm. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means ‘shut up’. It means coming before God, away from the noise, away from the commotion, away from the busyness. Not with a shopping list, not with a list of demands, but actually with no words at all – just with a heart that is open to listen.

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not without, but within.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.”

Isaiah 26:3 NIV – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Sometimes life shakes us up a little. We become disoriented, overwhelmed, consumed by the day to day happenings of our lives.  The British Navy has a practice known as an “ALL STILL”. When something goes wrong on a ship, particularly a submarine, the captain announces “All Still”. For 3 minutes no one is allowed to move or speak.

All Still – is an God opportunity to catch your breath and out things into perspective

Abba Poeman, one of the ancient desert fathers, taught his disciples, “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.”

2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV – “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…”

IF you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you! If you don’t like where you are going in life – STOP. Let go of the challenges, worries, and anxieties that encumber us.

Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is Take it easy. 

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When You Pray You are Trusting God to Take Care of Things Beyond your Control 

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Luke 18:1 NIV  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

•Henri Nouwen writes about prayer in his book The Way of the Heart. And he says that the early church fathers wrote that we should “pray always.” And he says that the literal translation of these words is “come to rest.” 

What a wonderful picture – that as we come to pray, we’re actually coming to rest. And he goes on to say, “that the rest we find in prayer has nothing to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

•The problems are still there, the challenges are still there, the busyness is still there, there’s meeting to attend, there’s people to see, there’s work to do – but in the eye of your storm – amongst all the activity and chaos – there is perfect peace and tranquility and rest.

•Prayer is the highest order of spiritual business. For it links a powerless human to the creative force of God’s sovereign power!

Colossians 4:3 NIV Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The greatest value in prayer is not what you can get from God but what you learn & become

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral!

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me, all the time waking and sleeping. It does not change God. It changes me.” CS Lewis

Prayer is the most difficult thing in the world to do. In prayer we find ourselves standing on the edge of a deep, dark, abyss – the world of the divine, infinite, and eternal.  We come face to face with ourselves and face to face with God.

Take it easy….. Slow down, breathe deeply, reflect deeply, pray deeply, live deeply!

Relax and refuse to let worry and stress rule your life. There is always a solution to every problem. Things will work out for you when you take time to relax, refresh, restore and recharge your soul.

How you can practice Relaxing

1. Schedule a time. For me, I schedule stillness first thing in the morning. It has become so precious to me, that I won’t want to start the day without it. I practice this first—before prayer, before Bible reading, before journaling, and before exercise.

2. Find a place. When I was on vacation, I sat outside by the pool. This was ideal. But it is not my real world. Now I simply go into my study or my back patio. The main thing is to find a place where you won’t be interrupted.

3. Set a timer.  set aside fifteen minutes a day. In my limited experience this seems about right. It is amazing how my perception of this time changes from day to day. Sometimes it seems like forever. Other times, it goes by very quickly. I use the timer on my iPhone.

4. Relax your body. I simply sit in a soft chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically relax my body and get quiet. If you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water.

5. Quiet your mind. This is the biggest challenge for me. Just when I get still, I have some random thought or a whole flurry of thoughts. But I am getting better. a discipline that keeps your allotted time from being hijacked by an overly-active mind.

6. Be present. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the past. Don’t be worrying or dreaming about the future. Instead, collect your thoughts and be present—in this moment. It is the most important time you have. In fact, it is the only time you have.

7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness.

The Baggage of Busyness

baggage

The Baggage of Busyness

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Rob Bell said, “Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to”

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with stress.  We are frazzled, overwhelmed, complexed, & bewildered. We have heavier work loads, greater demands, higher stress than ever before, and we are busy busy busy.

Some of us are overwhelmed by the pace of life. 

•The term 24/7 – nonstop. It’s become a mantra for our American culture. Everything is MORE. (It’s not a scheduling issue but a life issue)

Eccl. 7:29 JB God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising

There was a recent survey, where they discovered, that many would rather work than play, . . . that, we enjoy employment, . . . over enjoyment. We’re going to look at, a prescription, for people, . . . under pressure.

Quiz to find out, . . . if you’re a workaholic:

  1. Are you always, . . . in a hurry?
  2. Is your “To do” list, . . . always, unrealistically long?
  3. Do you use days off, . . . to catch up, on unfinished work?
  4. Has more than one person, . . . ever told you, to slow down?
  5. Do you feel guilty, . . . when you relax?
  6. Do you have to get sick, . . . to take time off?

This is not the kind of life God wants you to live

Psalm 127:2 (The Message) “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”

Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.”

He’s referring to rest and refreshment. God is interested in your rest and recreation. He wants you to live a whole, balanced and complete life. He wants you to not be working all the time.

A CNN pole recently said that 59% of all Americans would like to slow down and relax more. A Harris pole said we have 8.5 hours less leisure time than we did a decade ago. We’re working more and enjoying it less.

A prescription for pressured people: God’s Way to RELAX and UNWIND

1. REALIZE MY WORTH

The reason, most people, overwork, is because they confuse, their work, . . . and, their worth.  We think that, if we work a whole lot, achieve a lot, . . . we’re worth a lot.  We confuse, what we do, with who we are.  In America, we get our primary identity, from what we do.  When we meet someone, after we find out their name, usually the second question is, “What do you do?”  We get our worth, we think, . . from our work.

The Bible doesn’t, teach that.  It says our worth, is regardless, . . of what our work is.  The real reason, you overwork is, you say, . . . “I’ll show them.  I will prove my worth, by my accomplishments, my achievements.”  You never accomplish, enough, . . . to feel satisfied.

The antidote is to realize what God says about you.

James 1:18 (NCV) “God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.”

God says you matter more than the rest of creation. You can relax; you don’t have to prove your worth. If you were made by God, you’re worth it. You don’t spend your whole life, . . . trying to win the approval, of other people.  You don’t need the approval, of other people, . . . to be happy.  But, you do need to realize, . . . how valuable you are, to God.

Matthew 6:26 NIV Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

1) You will never understand how much God loves you here on earth.

2) There is nothing you can ever do in life that will make God love you more than He already does.

3) There is nothing you can ever do that will make God love you any less. His love is not based on your performance. It’s unconditional love. It’s based on who He is.

You don’t have to prove your worth by overworking. God says you are OK.

Isaiah 49:16 NIV – See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

2. ENJOY WHAT I ALREADY HAVE

Ecclesiastes 3:13 ESV – also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Can you be so preoccupied in getting more that you don’t enjoy what you’ve got? Sure. Can you so busy trying, with the desire to acquire more and more that you don’t enjoy what’s already in your garage?

We get into a syndrome: The desire to acquire. They’ve got that so we’ve got to get that. They’ve moved up so we’ve got to move up. We’re trying to keep up with the Jones’s not realizing they just refinanced or filed for bankruptcy. We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. We try to get more and more and we get overextended financially.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Good News Translation – Maybe so, but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.

As a pastor I’ve been at a lot of death beds. I have never had one person say at their final breath “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Many have said “I wish I had spent more time with my kids (wife, husband, building relationships, with God)”

Enjoy what you have while you’ve got it and don’t be worrying about getting more all of the time.

3. LIMIT MY LABOR

We must make, a conscious decision, to make time, for other things, . . . besides work.  We have to decide, how many hours, I realistically want to spend working, each week, . . . and, then, we need to stick to it.  We need to schedule time, for ourselves, with God alone, with our family — those are important elements, in our life, . . . as well as work

Our best requires rest. You can get so many irons in the fire, you put out the fire.

Ecclesiastes 10:15 Good News Translation (GNT) 15 Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.

Exodus 20:9-11 MSG – Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day

God says that one day off every week is the rule. This is the fourth commandment; it’s in the Big Ten. It’s so important that God put it up there with “Don’t commit adultery” and “Don’t murder”. That’s how serious God takes this.

Why? The Bible calls it the Sabbath. Sabbath means a day of rest.

Mark 2:27 NIV – Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

Colossians says it doesn’t matter, what day you choose, . . . as long as, you choose one, . . . every week.  {Sunday is not, my Sabbath, . . . it’s a work day.}

What should you do on your day off, your Sabbath?

1) Rest my body. If you don’t take time to rest your body, your body will make time to rest itself — either in the hospital or with a cold or flu. Our best requires rest. During the French Revolution they outlawed Sunday as a day of rest. Within a few years they had to reinstate it. Not for religious reasons but because the health of the nation had collapsed. They were all burnt out.

Do you feel guilty when you relax? Jesus didn’t. He took time off. Are you busier than Jesus? Is what you’re doing more important than what Jesus did?

2) Recharge your emotions. What things recharge you emotionally? You need quietness. You need recreation —play, meditate, pray, Be still, be with your family.

3) You need to refocus your spirit. The Bible calls this worship. Worship brings things into perspective.

When you come into church with a big problem, worship puts things into perspective. You have more energy to deal with the problem and more understanding. You need time alone with God every day. If you’re too busy for God you’re too busy. You’re missing out on one of the very things you were made for.

Worship affects me deeply. God soothes me more in worship than in any other way. I can see God and His power, His joy, and His love.

Spiritual comfort comes through Prayer. Shut off from the world and have a time of Centered prayer.

Psalm 43:5 ESV – Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Salvation in this verse does not mean eternal salvation. It means deliverance, or the sense of helping someone out of their difficulty.  This is what God does during times of heaviness. He will deliver you.

4. Adjust My Values

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not without, but within.”

In order to reduce busyness in my life I must change my thinking about what is important.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV – And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

(“I’ve learned why people work so hard to succeed; it is because they envy the things their neighbors have.”)

Mark 8:36 NIV – What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Is it worth it? Ask yourself this question about every area in your life. What’s, more important?  Things, . . . or, family?  More busyness, . . . or, your church family?

5.  EXCHANGE MY PRESSURE, . . . FOR GOD’S PEACE

John 16:33 Amplified – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

This gets at the very root of your stress. There are three kinds of fatigue:

There is physical fatigue — tired muscles. That can be replenished pretty quickly.

There is emotional fatigue — tired emotions, feelings.

There is spiritual fatigue — a dry spirit. This is the deepest.

You may need a vacation. But a vacation will not help these last two. You need more than just time off to recharge your emotions and focus your spirit. You need a relationship to God. You can take a two week vacation in Tahiti but when you come back you’re still going to have the same problems. The pressures are still going to be there. It means more than just taking time off; it means readjusting my values and exchanging my pressure for God’s peace.

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! 

Philippians 4:7-9 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A little child does not like to lie down, to rest. Resistance to rest is a mark of immaturity.

In Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down.” That’s a forcing. Has God ever had to make you lie down? If you don’t slow down, sometimes God will just make you lie down. He cares about you. You matter to Him.

You need a relationship to Christ who will help you set the pace of your life.

Paraphrase of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest at intervals. He provides me with images of stillness to restore my serenity. He leads me in the way of efficiency to calmness of mind and this guidance is peace. Even though I have a great many things to accomplish this day, I will not fret for His presence is here. His timeliness, His all importance will keep me in balance. He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity, anointing my head with the oils of tranquility. My cup of joyous energy overflows. Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours, for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His heaven forever.

You need a pacesetter to set the pace of your life so you don’t go too slow or too fast. The only person wise enough to do that who knows you inside and out better than you even know yourself is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God; (Msg – “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

  1. Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop.
  2. Becoming still is an important key to knowing God. If we don’t fulfill the prerequisite of finding a place of stillness the implication is that we won’t know God.

You need a relationship to Him where you exchange His peace for your pressure. When you live for God, it’s not only the right way, it’s the healthy way, the whole way, the balanced way, and the most relaxing way.

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”