“Spending Time With Jesus” is Never Enough

No matter how much time we spend with Jesus, it will never be enough by itself. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think there’s anything more vital than time with Jesus, it’s just that I believe He has more for us than His time.

In our Christian circles, we throw around phrases like: “I need to have my quiet time with Jesus” or “I just need to be with Jesus”. Great phrases, but what is the outcome of this “time with Jesus” or “being with Jesus”? I believe that Jesus wants to offer more than His time to us.

In Matthew’s gospel, we read this invitation from Jesus:

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What a beautiful invitation! Jesus invites us to spend time with Him, but that’s not the only invitation in this passage. Jesus also invites us to learn from Him. See, the invitation from Jesus is twofold – spend time with me and learn from me.

The secret to finding rest for our soul, and gaining the most from our “time with Jesus” is being in His presence and learning His principles.

Just as spending time in the gym doesn’t make me fit, only spending time with Jesus doesn’t produce in me all He has for me. Jesus invites us, not only into His presence, but to also learn His principles. The benefit of being with Jesus is the transformation He brings to our life.

When we say, “yes” to both invitations, we experience true rest for souls. So, if you’re spending time with Jesus, you’re halfway there. But don’t just spend time with Him, learn from Him. If you’re not spending time with Him on a regular basis, consider yourself invited. Find a time, find a place, and find a method to track what He’s teaching you. For me, time is in the morning, the place is in my living room, and the method is my journal.

Would love to hear what you’re doing, and how you’re responding to this twofold invitation of time and teaching. Comment below.

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How to Sabbath When You Work on Sundays

As ministry leaders, we rarely get the opportunity to Sabbath on Sundays, and without intentionality we can neglect the spiritual discipline of Sabbath rest altogether. For many of us, our day of Sabbath rest has turned into a time of running errands or simply recovering from the weekend of ministry – this is not what God intended of this day for us. Jesus declared that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, so if this day was made for us, we should take full advantage of its benefits.

So how can we Sabbath when we work on Sundays? Here are some ways that I’ve been using lately to help me protect my Sabbath and keep it holy:

1. I got serious about protecting my Sabbath day.
Your Sabbath day is your responsibility, and if you don’t place value on your Sabbath day, no one else will. I love the descriptive story of Nehemiah and how he rebuked the people of Jerusalem for not observing the Sabbath:

Nehemiah 13:19 When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.

No one will take your Sabbath day of rest more seriously than you.

2. I shut off my distractions.
Turning off your email on the Sabbath may not be enough, because text messaging has created a culture of instant communication – we’re now expected to be available to everyone at all times. If we’re truly going to observe a Sabbath day of rest, we might have to turn our phones off altogether or at least all of our notifications. I’m not suggesting you go dark on your spouse or children, but I am recommending you discover better ways to communicate with them while you replenish on your Sabbath day. I turn off all my notifications, never check my email, and only read text messages or receive calls from family. While I’m readily accessible as a pastor, I’m only strategically available. And for the health of my spiritual life, marriage, and ministry, I’m strategically unavailable on my day off. Except, (yes – there are always exceptions) when death or crisis impacts someone God has entrusted to my care. Ministry is not a job; it’s a way of life, so when tragedy strikes someone I shepherd and care for, my team knows how to get a hold of my wife or me. What I’ve found is that the better I protect my Sabbath the easier it is for me to step into crisis moments with grace and empathy.

3. I have a plan.
Approaching the Sabbath day without a plan is like going on a family vacation without a destination – you’ll get nowhere fast. Sabbath rest is not sleeping in or crossing things off your to-do list. I love what Pastor Chris Hodges says about the Sabbath, “You don’t rest because your tired, you rest so that you don’t grow tired.”  The whole point of the Sabbath day is replenishment, not just rest. Everyone replenishes in different ways: outside, reading, sleeping, walking, singing, meditating, exercising, and the list goes on. No matter how you replenish, make a plan to replenish intentionally, and not just physically, think emotionally and spiritually too. The more focused you approach your Sabbath day, the more beneficial it will become.

Get serious, turn off your distractions, and execute your plan.

The health of your soul matters, and it has to matter most to you.

How are you protecting your Sabbath day? I’d love to hear the intentional steps you’re taking to maintain spiritual health in your marriage, family, and ministry.