Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #4: Balance

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Do you ever feel like everything is accomplished just as you’re running out of time? Does life feel like diffusing a time bomb? This week, we’re going to look at a value that is universally admired, and universally ignored – balance.

God established the universe with the principle of balance or equilibrium. For instance, the earth is balanced on an axis. Another example is architecture. Architecture is built on the principle of balancing stress load. If there is no stress it will collapse. If there is too much stress it will collapse.

If your life is not balanced it will collapse.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23 NIV

The Bible presents a balance between work and rest. Good, hard, focused work is godly and biblical. It’s completely reasonable for your employer to ask for 40 solid hours from youIt’s right for them to ask for those hours to be focused, not doing personal projects or shopping or social media.

“It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night… God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.” Psalm 127:2 TLB

The Bible also talks about rest. God cares about your work, but he’s also concerned that you get the right amount of rest. The human body is built on the principle of balance. Your body is made up of many systems and functions properly when these systems are in balance with each other. 

When any one of these systems gets out of balance, we call that dis-ease or disease. When the systems are all in balance we call that health. Healing is the recovery of balance to the body. God’s interested in you living a balanced life.


B.A.L.A.N.C.E

B — Build my life around Christ

The only person who ever lived a perfectly God-honoring life was Jesus. Therefore, He defines what balance is. Think of your life like a wheel. 

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At the center of the wheel is the hub. Out of that hub are all the spokes of life which represent your relationships, your family, your career, your finances, your dreams, your goals and every other area of your life.

Many people put “God” or “going to church” as just another spoke on their wheel. But, that means something or someone else will be at the hub, because there is always going to be something at the center of your life. 

How do you know what your life is centered around? Simple — What do you think about the most? Every time we make a decision, we think about what that decision will affect. Do you think about how the decision will affect your relationship with Christ?

Whatever you think about the most is what you center your life around. 

The center of your life is very important. If you have a solid center, you’re going to have a solid life. But if you’ve got a weak, flimsy center you’re going to crack up at the edges. Only God is strong enough to hold you together, nothing else has the strength to hold all the pieces of life together. 

Not only does the hub create stability, the hub controls everything else. So whatever you put at the core of your life, is going to control and influence everything else. The center of the wheel is the hub, the hub is connected to the axle and the axle is connected to the source of power.

The power always emanates from the hub outward, not inward. If you have anything except God at the center of your life, at the hub, at the core, you’ve got a power shortage. 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT

If you put Jesus Christ at the center, He can direct, He can influence, He can empower, He can give stability to every spoke of your life whether it’s education, career, family, etc.

A — Accept my humanity

That means we stop trying to pretend that we have all the answers, that we can solve everybody’s problem, that we can meet every need and that we can fulfill everyone’s expectation. We must recognize that we have limitations.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

We think, “It’s all going to crash if I don’t keep it going.” But we forget, we are not the general manager of the universe. And even God can’t even please everybody. One person wants it to rain, another wants it to be sunny. Only a fool would try to do what even God can’t do.

Not all the pressure in your life is coming from other people; we often put the pressure on ourselves. We think we need to add more extra curricular activities, remodel the bathroom, get another degree, start a side hustle, throw a huge birthday party… but this is uneccessary pressure we put on ourselves to try and measure up. 

“You made my body, Lord; now give me sense to heed your laws.” Psalm 119:73 TLB

L — Limit my Labor

Just like a bow and arrow, a bow that is constantly strung tight, loses it’s power. It has to be unstrung periodically. We can’t live under constant tension. This is not just pop psychology or good advice, it’s so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments.

“You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me.” Exodus 20:9-10 GNT

Up there on the list with, “Don’t make any idols.” He also says, “Take a day off every seven days.” God wired you up to be in a rhythm of work and rest.

Our best requires rest. 

This principle is called the Sabbath. Sabbath simply means “A day of rest.” God expects you to observe a sabbath every seven days.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.'” Mark 2:27 NLT

They were creating extra rules for the Sabbath to the point where the Sabbath wasn’t a relief, it became just another burden. The book of Colossians in the New Testament says God doesn’t care which day your Sabbath is. We get concerned about all the rules but He wants us to catch the principle of balance, not get so wrapped up in the law. 

If the goal of Sabbath is rest, then there are three types of fatigue we need to tend to. 

  • Physical fatigue: when your muscles and your body get tired.
  • Emotional fatigue: when your emotions get tired.
  • Spiritual fatigue: when your heart dries up and you just don’t feel close to God and you feel like when you pray, nobody’s listening.

So what three things do we do on a sabbath?

1. Rest my body

If you don’t take time off, your body will take time off for you. Your back will go out, you’ll get a headache, you’ll get the flu… We are not designed to go without rest.

2. Recharge your emotions

This takes different things for different people. You can recharge yourself emotionally through quietness, through recreation, through relationships.

3. Refocus your spirit

The Bible word for that is worship. Worship is when I focus on God instead of all my problems. One of the things worship does is put everything else in perspective. It shrinks your problems. Too often when people are tired and overworked they look for peace & quiet when they really need the Peace of Christ.

A — Adjust my values

The real reason our lives get out of balance is because our values get out of balance; we start majoring on the minors. The Bible says that one of the reasons we overwork is materialism, but you can’t keep up with the Jones’ and live a balanced life at the same time.

“I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy the things their neighbors have.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 GNT

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

One of the reasons why Americans have a hard time relaxing is because we often confuse our work and our worth. We think that what I do is the same thing as who I am and my net worth determines my self worth. That’s all a lie. It’s just not true.

Your identity has nothing to do with your career or how fulfilling the job is. It has to do with who God made you to be. We think if I achieve a lot then I’m worth a lot. But, we need to remember, the greatest things in life aren’t things.

“It is better to have only a little with peace of mind than to be busy all the time.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

N — Nourish my inner life

God puts an inner fire within each of us that gives us a passion and zeal and a reason to get up in the morning. If you don’t tend it, if you don’t nourish that fire, you will find that it goes out eventually. Then, you are then trying to live your life and meet other people’s needs from very cold embers rather than a blazing fire.

Our society encourages us to live externally, to live from the outside in, to make sure that everything looks really good on the outside and hope somehow we can cover up what’s going on, on the inside. But what does it matter if you’ve got an immaculate yard, every weed picked, every blade of grass is where it should be, and your house is decorated flawlessly your car is washed and your desk is clean if on the inside there is death, bitterness, rage, frustration and unforgiveness?

God tells us we are to live our lives from the inside out not from the outside in. That has to do with tending that inner fire. What is it you have stopped paying attention to or stopped doing because you are just too busy?

Charles Swindoll says in his book, “Growing Strong Through the Seasons of Life” that one time he went to a beautiful home and there was an amazing stone fireplace with a large wood mantel. He walked up close to see what words were on the mantel. It said, “If your heart is cold, my fires cannot warm you.” 

A three car garage cannot warm a cold heart. A promotion at work cannot warm a cold heart. A two week vacation cannot warm a cold heart. A successful business cannot warm a cold heart. What will warm a cold heart is contact again with the living God.

“I will delight in your decrees. I will not neglect your word.” Psalm 119:16

If you’re finding the fire in your life has gone out, get back in contact with the living God and let Him begin to warm up your heart again.

C — Commit my schedule to God.

Each day, we have to commit our schedules to God, knowing for an absolute fact, that life is not going to cooperate with our schedule. Have you noticed that life doesn’t really care about what is on your to-do list?

“My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:15

When we live by that verse, our stress level goes down. We can make a list, but also commit it to God, knowing that He alone knows what we are supposed to be doing on any given day. 

In Matthew 9 is the story of Jesus on His way to heal a dying child. On His way, a woman who has had a chronic illness for over 20 years stops Him and He stops and heals her. That it tells me Jesus understood this principle. He understood that the Father knew where He was supposed to be and He was willing to be bendable and flexible to let God show Him where He was supposed to spend His time. 

E — Enjoy each moment

“All of us should… enjoy what we have worked for. It’s God’s gift.” Ecclesiastes 3:13 GNT

Balanced people learn how to be happy while they’re working on goals. It’s okay to have goals, God even says to work on goals. But you need to understand that the goal of life is not accomplishments.

The goal of life — the reason you were put here on this earth — are two things: to get to know God personally through His son Jesus Christ, and to become more like God is in character using the gifts He gave you to serve other people.

We can’t do that if we’re not thankful for the moments he gives us. You can get everything else right. Your schedule. Time management. Money management. Days off. Vacation time. But it still won’t meet your biggest need.

Your biggest need is salvation.

You need to get plugged back in to God’s power. Physical fatigue can be cured by rest. But it takes more than physical rest to rejuvenate emotional and spiritual fatigue. If your spirit’s dried up, a two week vacation isn’t going to do anything for it. You do that by putting Christ back at the center, at the hub of your life. 

“Jesus: ‘Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest… the load I give to you to carry is light.'” Matthew 11:28,30

He tells us He will give us rest, not give us a whole lot more to do. Some of us may be afraid to really sell out to God completely because we are afraid God’s going to load more on us than we’ve already got. The myth is, if I live God’s way He’ll give me more to do. The fact is He will exchange our pressure for His peace and His power. 

He wants you to be balanced. He’ll give you a life and values that are going to matter for eternity. If you are carrying a heavy load, it’s not from God. God will never put more on you than He puts in you to bear it up.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on Self-Control? How did it go writing out your own prayer from Psalm 13, 43, 51 or 140?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook App

Hear the Word

Are you managing your schedule or is your schedule managing you? Have you ever considered how your schedule and the way you use your time could impact your values?

We all desire a balanced life, and for good reason: It’s part of God’s plan for us. Every nook and cranny of the universe is built on this principle. The earth is balanced. Your body, when it’s healthy, is balanced. Our life and our schedules are healthy when they are balanced.

“It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night… God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.” Psalm 127:2 TLB

B.A.L.A.N.C.E

Build my life around Christ. Accept my humanity. Limit my labor. Adjust my values. Nourish my inner life. Commit my schedule to God. Enjoy each moment.

Application

  1. What does your life revolve around right now? Work? Family? School? Is Jesus Christ one of the spokes, or is he the hub of your life? You’ll never be at peace and never be balanced if Christ is not at the center. When Christ is at the center he gives you stability, control and power. What spoke of your life is currently competing to be the hub of your life?
  2. If you’re wondering what that looks like, here are a few ideas. Have a day that you rest your body, where you recharge your emotions and where you refocus your spirit by focusing on God. With that framework, what would a day of rest look like for you? What would be a successful sabbath for you? What activities? What people?
  3. What are you neglecting in your life right now that normally fuels your passion? What have you stopped paying attention to or stopped doing to nourish your inner life because you’re too busy?
  4. How often do you enjoy time and experiences with God and your family and your friends? If you want more of that kind of time in your life, get it on your schedule.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this message with? Maybe you could give them a break and use it as an opportunity to share this message with them. You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.

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Frequency Week 4 . Sleep

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There’s a secret ingredient when it comes to tuning into our Guide. Something you do every day, but if you miss the power of it, it’s going to be harder to hear your Guide.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Today we are talking about sleep, more specifically, why we should view sleep as a spiritual discipline. When you hear, “spiritual discipline” most of us think of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, going to church and so on. Often what happens, is people don’t do those things because they think they don’t have enough time.

The reason we don’t pray or read the Bible, is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that when we do have the time, we don’t have enough energy.

Reading the Bible, praying and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life is hard. If you’re not well rested, if you’re tired, you can’t even do it. You can’t have a serious conversation or read challenging material while you’re tired.

You simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of ways you can live on a sleep deficit. You can live a successful career life on a sleep deficit or a life of accomplishment on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of activities you can do on a sleep deficit. You can watch TV, check email and check things off your to-do list when you’re tired. Connecting with God is one thing you can’t do when you are tired.

God wants us to follow Him. God wants to meet with us, and we can’t stay awake.

There’s a chance to make real spiritual progress, but we’re too tired, so we do a lower activity, a less important activity.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

The Psalmist uses the word “vain” three times. Why is this lifestyle of getting up early and staying up late and getting as little sleep as you can, vain according to the psalmist?

There are things in our lives, in this broken world that fight against sleep, like kids, school, jobs, health problems or physical pain.

The psalmist here, is talking about a mindset that says, “I’m going to disregard sleep, I’m not going to value it, I’m not going to recognize it as a gift from God and I’m going to try and get by on as little as possible.”


Why is Trying to Sleep as Little as Possible, Vain?

1. All the big stuff is out of your control.

God is in control of all the big stuff. That’s what He means when He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s in vain.” 

You can work as hard as you want, but at the end of the day if God doesn’t want the house to stand, it’s not going to stand.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

The mindset of the person who tries to get as little sleep as possible is, “It all depends on me.”

We start to believe that it’s all up to us. That if we don’t keep working harder and harder every day and every week, we are going to fall behind and are not going to have enough. All of the big stuff is out of your control anyway.

If God wants it there, it’ll be there. If God doesn’t want it, it won’t be there. That’s the first reason why it is vain and pointless, to sleep as little as possible.

2. Even if you are successful, you’ll be eating the bread of anxious toil.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil…” Psalm 127:2 ESV

The bread of anxious toil doesn’t taste very good. This is the human problem. We accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We live in the neighborhood we wanted to live in, we build the house we want to live in, the perfect job that fulfills all our passions and somehow it doesn’t feel the way we thought it would feel.

It doesn’t matter if you get everything you want if you’re so anxious and tired all the time that you can’t enjoy it.

If you have this attitude of, “It all depends on me,” who cares if you reach all your goals, because you will just be eating the bread of anxious toil.

3. It’s massively counterproductive.

Productivity is not the number of things you get done. Productivity is doing the right things.

When you are tired, you won’t know what to say no to. You won’t have the right perspective. When you’re tired you have no self-disciplines and your emotions are out of control. It takes rest to decide what the right things are and you can’t do those things when you’re tired.

So many people experience relapse because they were so tired of the fight. It’s hard to fight against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, food, affairs and all those things, when you’re tired. Instead of moving forward, we relapse and do things that reverse our progress.

We’re talking about vanity, and the sense of it being pointless. The other meaning of the word vain is concerned with appearances, pride. That applies here too. We brag about the little sleep we get like we’re stronger than others and the Bible says that’s just vanity.

You can brag about it all you want and tell yourself you’re getting more done, but it’s vanity.


How to Sleep More and Better

More and more people’s sleep is being aided by some type of pill or some other form of sleep inducement. There are all sorts of articles online and in magazines with practical tips on how to sleep more and better. Things like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, room temperature, make sure to work hard during the day so you’re actually tired at night.

All of that can help, but today, let’s focus on the spiritual side of getting more sleep, getting better sleep.

  • Release control.

Why did God invent sleep in the first place?

Sleep reinforces the difference between us and God.

The core of all sin is believing that we are God. When we release control, we are recognizing we are not God.

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121:3b-4 NIV

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God doesn’t need to sleep and we do.

Sleep is a constant reminder that I am not God and I am not in control.

We’re not in control of other people or what happens in the world. Every 24 hours no matter who you are, we have to become like a little baby. Blind, weak, helpless, vulnerable. It’s humiliating if you fight it. It’s humbling if you embrace it. If you embrace sleep, instead of fighting it, it becomes an act of surrender.

Sleep is an act of worship.

We fight for control of our lives all day long. We fight to control the people around us and their decisions and sleep is this act of surrender and this act of worship. Many people would love to sleep more and better, but they can’t because their mind continues to race, because they haven’t trusted God with their lives.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Peace comes from trust in God.

In the Bible, there’s this time when Jesus is sleeping during a giant storm. How? Because He trusts His Father. How can we release control and trust in God?

When you google, “practical ways to fall asleep” you are going to hear in multiple places, meditate. These sources couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

How to release control: Consciously Meditate

Most of the time what the magazines and self helpers are talking about is the Buddhist or eastern religious practice, where you sit and focus on your breath. You won’t be able to focus on your breath for 20 minutes, but every time something pops into your mind other than your breath, you release it and focus on your breath again, and it works.

It’s not only an ancient Buddhist practice, it’s an ancient Christian practice as well. But the word mediation has been absolutely highjacked. The enemy can’t create anything so he distorts what God has created.

The Christian practice of meditation is a lot better, because focus on something more than your breathing. You focus on God. There are different versions of this. You can focus on a name of God, like the name Father or Provider, you pray a short prayer over and over again. One of the oldest ones is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

But again, you’re not going to be able to. You can’t even do it for 10 seconds. Other thoughts will rush in. We think that’s a bad thing, that those thoughts are the enemy. This is the breakdown in our perspective of Christian prayer and meditation. We don’t think we can rest, because we get so distracted.

Distractions aren’t the enemy, they’re the point.

When you pray, what distracts you? What other thoughts are coming in? Take those distractions and now you know what to pray about. Don’t just pray about the things you are conscious of, pray about the things that are decieving you.

Paul, a New Testament writer, told us to put on truth first, because we get deceived. So we sit there and think and distractions come pouring in…those are the things we release to God.

Don’t start worrying about it or figuring out what to do with this problem, just say, “God this is yours to deal with, I release control to you and I can’t do anything about it.”

If you do that, your sleep quality will begin to change.

  • Remember the resurrection.

One of the things about sleep is this connection it has to death. There’s an African proverb that says, “Sleep is the friend of death.”

Schopenhauer said, “Every day is a mini life. Every time you wake up it’s a mini birth, and every time you go to sleep it’s like death.”

There’s this sense in which sleep is great practice for death, because the same God you have to trust to watch over you as you sleep, is the same God you’ll have to trust in the end when you die.

The connection between sleep and death, is that there is one thing that will keep you awake at night. It’s wondering if your soul is in danger.

Remember this childhood prayer? Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

It’s a very dark prayer, but parents felt like this is where it’s at. This is the essence of peace. The essence of being able to sleep soundly is trusting God with your soul.

How do you get to the point where you trust God with your soul and not fear death?

The way the Christian is able to not fear death is by realizing that death is nothing more than sleep.

Jesus is the one who introduces this terminology. He told His disciples,

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”  John 11:11-15 NIV

After the resurrection, the early Christians figure out that his resurrection is not a one off event, but it’s actually what happens to everyone who believes, they start using the same terminology about all Christians who have died.

In the New Testament, Paul talks about different people falling asleep. We pass over that like he’s being polite, but it’s not a euphemism. It’s a very particular and profound statement of faith. We know this, because of the places it’s not used.

After Christ, the term of fallen asleep is never used for an unbeliever, someone who rejected God. For them, it’s just died. It’s over. The phrase fallen asleep is never used with respect to Christ himself. It never says Christ fell asleep, even though he was eventually raised. Why? Because Christ died the death of an unbeliever.

The thing that makes death so awful is the separation from God and in some sense, that’s the definition of death. That’s what Jesus went through. He didn’t just fall asleep. He was separated from God. He died, condemned and with sin on his shoulders. Not his own sin, but our sin.

Because He died in condemnation in our place, we don’t have to experience it. There is no final death of being separated from God. What other’s call death, is falling asleep and waking up, resurrected for a believer.

Remembering that Jesus has already died the final death of condemnation in my place enables me to sleep soundly.

If you can remember the final death of condemnation has already been undergone by someone else in your place, then it will enable you to sleep soundly.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on recognizing God’s voice and testing an impression through the Bible, Christlikeness, Godly counsel and peace?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we concluded the Frequency series with the thought, “I simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Read: Isaiah 40, Psalm 127 and John 11:1-44

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you to hear?
  2. Have you ever reached a goal and been too busy, anxious or tired to enjoy it?
  3. Have you ever made a bad or wrong decision because you were too tired or overwhelmed?
  4. How can sleep be an act of worship?
  5. How did this message change the way you think about the word meditation?
  6. When life slows down, what do you tend to worry about? Family? Money? Work?
  7. Christ died the death of an unbeliever. How can that help us to sleep soundly?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help or encourage someone else?

 

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