These are notes on the sermon, The Art of Slowing Down, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, July 2, 2023, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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Do you find it hard to slow down, even when you’re on vacation? Do you find yourself constantly engaged with social media, messages, and emails, keeping up with the latest trends as well as your personal and work responsibilities, with hardly any time to rest? More than that, do you find yourself bombarded with advertisements and the pressures to purchase this or do that?
Or are you very result oriented and always in a rush to get somewhere else. Is your mind constantly focused on what to do next instead of what is happening in the present moment? Do you have a Type A personality?
Friend, if you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above questions, know that you are knowingly or unknowingly living a hurried life, and it’s perfectly okay to slow down and take a break. In fact, it is vital that you do. Life is more than just hurrying to get things done and to get things. It’s about kairos moments with the Lord. And He is never hurried.
When we get caught up in the rush and the hurry, we naturally forget to pause and give thanks. When our focus is on what we need to do, what we need to get, and what we deserve, we will lose sight of what God has already blessed us with in our current season (see also sermon The Cure to a Dissatisfied Life).
The Sabbath principle is not just an idea created by man. Right from the beginning, it was God’s idea and given for our benefit.
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
—Genesis 2:2–3 NKJV
God put the Sabbath in the law because He wants us to know how important it is for us to rest. Under the law, every 7th year is a year of rest. Back in the day, this means that you were not supposed to toil the land if you were a farmer. And to further emphasize the importance of the Sabbath, God even promised the children of Israel that He would give them 3 years’ worth of harvest in the 6th year so that they could observe the Sabbath year without any worry about provision.
But the children of Israel disobeyed God and did not observe the Sabbath over a period of 490 years. The result?
“And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
—2 Chronicles 36:20–21 NKJV
King Nebuchadnezzar invaded and carried off the children of Israel to Persia, allowing the land of Israel to remain desolate for the 70 years that the Israelites did not keep the Sabbath.
During this time in Chronicles, when the children of Israel did not keep the Sabbath, they ended up also worshiping false idols and were morally corrupt. This shows us that when you are not restful, you become more vulnerable to temptations.
Beloved, we are no longer under the old covenant of law, and the Lord will not execute judgment on us for not resting. However, we can understand from this that rest is a critical part of how the Lord made us. So when we do not prioritize rest, it can affect our health or well-being, and we may end up having to “pay it back.”
So how are we to rest? Other than physical rest like lying down or going to sleep, what does truly resting look like? We get a picture of what true rest is like when we observe the temple of God.
The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). The temple of God has three distinct areas—the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Similarly, man also has three parts—the body, the mind or soul, and the spirit (1 Thess. 5:23).
In the Outer Court, it is very busy with much activity. People are coming to the temple, while the priests are praying and preparing sacrifices. This is a picture of us going about our day-to-day duties and responsibilities. There are many things to be done.
Meanwhile, in the Holy Place, it is quiet and lit with the light of the menorah. This is a picture of what our minds are to be like, quiet and enlightened with the Word of God. While we may be busy with activities and responsibilities on the outside, our minds can be at peace and filled with the revelation of God.
Finally, in the Holy of Holies, there is perfect stillness. This is a picture of the Spirit within us, the source of all power. It is the connection between God and us. It is the part of us that the world knows nothing about, and it is the part of us that is born again when we receive the gift of salvation.
When we look at the temple of God, we can see what being at rest looks like to God. There can be activity and busyness on the outside but always at peace within.
Outwardly, rest may look different for everyone. For some of us, rest can mean not doing anything. For example, if our day jobs require us to be constantly on the move, resting can mean setting aside time to rest our bodies and not move. On the other hand, for someone like the man in John 5:8–11 who could not walk for 38 years, rest meant obeying the Lord, rising from his bed, and walking—all on a Sabbath!
“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
—Hebrews 4:10–11 KJV
“Laboring into rest” sounds like a paradox, but it tells of how difficult it is for us to enter into rest. Pastor Prince shared that even when he tried to rest during his sabbatical, he found his thoughts and cares pulling him away from rest. And he had to conscientiously prioritize rest in order to remain at rest.
Being at rest is not simply slowing down for the sake of it. It is resting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross for you—intentionally slowing down to enter the Holy of Holies, the place of stillness, quietness, and communion with God, despite everything else going on around you.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;”
—Matthew 6:28 NKJV
In this generation of noise, we can be addicted to busyness. Pastor Prince encourages us to keep a day of rest, a weekly Sabbath. It’s a day set aside to have communion and intimacy with the Lord. Just like the lilies of the field, we can trust that the Lord will care for us when we are at rest, not toiling or spinning. And when we slow down, we do not stagnate. Instead, we allow the Lord to grow us.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
But try sitting down to pause and rest for some time. Take note of how long you can go before you inadvertently reach for your phone or before your mind starts to wander into the busyness of the day ahead.
Or try going off the grid for just a day (yes, that means putting your precious phone aside for more than a minute) and see how you handle the onslaught of thoughts.
"Have I taken care of the bills yet? "
"What else do I have to settle today? "
"Have I seen to everything my kids need? "
Many of these concerns are legitimate and part of being a responsible person, but it begs us to ask: Have we been hard-wired to an overly hurried and unsustainable pace of life? Are we losing our ability to be still, to rest, or even to slow down?
Now here’s the real kicker.
It’s not just our health, emotions, or general well-being that is affected when we constantly live at a breakneck pace. When we lose our ability to be at rest, we lose the most important thing of all—space to be present with the Lord and to hear His voice.
So, let’s take time today. To refuse to succumb to hurry. To practice the art of slowing down. To rest and hear Him, and with that, all the insights and answers we need for every situation, challenge, and responsibility.
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2023
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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