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Lesson 1: Living in a 24-7 Society *

Introduction: Has life changed for you? Go back twenty-five years. That was about the time when I first purchased a cell phone and began to use email. The great news was that I did not need to look for a public phone when I traveled, and I did not have to be in my office to send a letter. The very bad news was that I could now be contacted at any time of the day and was expected to respond within hours. Prior to that, who knew when a letter actually arrived at my office? My wife and I had a machine that answered all our calls at home. I had gone from having control over my schedule to entering the 24-7 society.  Does this sound familiar to you? If so, then this study is for you! Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more.

  1.         Jesus’ Rest

  1.         Read Matthew 11:27. Is this a riddle? It sounds like Jesus is saying that only God the Father and God the Son know each other.  Is there an exception? (Yes! Jesus can choose to reveal God to us.)

  1.         Read Matthew 11:28-29. What do you think is the connection between knowing God and rest? (It must be a “knowing” thing because Jesus tells us that He can help us know God, and that if we “learn from [Jesus]” we will understand a light and easy yoke.)

  1.         What does the fact that Jesus has a “gentle and lowly heart” have to do with our load? (Traditionally, gods made big demands on humans. Jesus tells us that He is not like that. He is not demanding.)

  1.         How does Jesus make our burdens lighter? How does He give us rest? Does His use of the word “yoke” have anything to do with this answer? (The underlying Greek means to join or couple. The idea is that Jesus shares our burden.)

  1.         Let me push back a bit on this. Is Jesus saying that He will answer my pile of emails and reduce the number of cell phone calls?

  1.         If you say, “no,” what is Jesus proposing? (Notice that the promised rest is for our “souls.” Strong’s tells us that this is not a reference to rational thinking, but rather to a more abstract concept of your heart. I come away with the idea that God gives us an attitude that lightens our load.)

  1.         Have you ever experienced the idea I just suggested?

  1.         How much of the pressure in your life is created by things that do not make any real difference in the long run?

  1.         Why would a better knowledge of God help in regard to sorting out what is important and what is mere pressure of the moment? (We need to look at the burdens in our life in terms of eternity. What really makes a difference? That is the attitude that we need.)

  1.         Read Mark 6:7 and Mark 6:12-13. On the scale of eternal importance, where would you rank these activities of the disciples?

  1.         Read Mark 6:30-32. Would you be able to take a break from preaching the gospel, casting out demons, and healing the sick?

  1.         Why does Jesus tell them to take a break? (He is teaching the principle of rest even when you could logically conclude that nothing is more important.)

  1.         Someone might say, “It appears that the disciples’ practice mission had ended, thus it was a natural time for a break.” Since they had learned to do these things, isn’t doing all of these important activities still the alternative use of their time?

  1.         Is your rest more important than bringing the gospel to someone or healing someone?

  1.         Read 2 Samuel 7:12. What does this suggest is one answer? (This is part of what it means to share burdens with God. He will raise up others to do the work that we do not do. Do you really think that anyone will be lost because you took a break?)

  1.         Read Mark 6:33-34. Is the world going to co-operate with you in your quest for rest?

  1.         The Baruch Attitude

  1.         Read Jeremiah 45:1. Who is Baruch, son of Neriah? (He is the scribe to the famous Bible prophet Jeremiah.)

  1.         Read Jeremiah 45:2. What is unusual about this situation? (God has a message for Baruch. Normally, God speaks to Jeremiah who tells Baruch what to write for the benefit of others. This is a personal message for Baruch.)

  1.         Read Jeremiah 45:3. Tell me about the attitude of Baruch? Upon whom is he focused? (He is focused on himself. He keeps referring to himself and his problems.)

  1.         What problem does Baruch mention that is relevant to this study? (He “finds no rest.”)

  1.         Read Jeremiah 45:4. What kind of future is before Baruch? (Things around him will not turn out well.)

  1.         Why does God say this to Baruch? If Baruch is focused on his pains and his lack of rest, what point is God making to him? (God suggests an attitude change. Don’t be so focused on yourself and your importance.)

  1.         Many years ago I was listening to a book on the American civil war, specifically the battle of Gettysburg. The author said that the gun fire was so intense that all of the grass, weeds, and bushes were cut off at a very low height. Humans could not survive this, and 50,000 men died in that battle. As I read this, I thought “Why do I think I am so important?”

  1.         Read Jeremiah 45:5. What is Baruch’s goal for himself? (Greatness!)

  1.         What does God say about that goal? (Don’t seek it.)

  1.         What does God promise Baruch instead? (Among the disasters that are coming to the land, he will live.)

  1.         What does God’s direction to Baruch have to do with Baruch’s statement that he cannot rest?

  1.         How much of your lack of rest is the result of your drive to be great?

  1.         We just celebrated Father’s Day in the United States, and among the many blessings my father gave to me was the drive to be the best. He created a competitive spirit in me. Many would disagree that this is a good thing, but I consider it to be among God’s greatest blessings to me. Does the message to Baruch tell me that I’m wrong?

  1.         How common is it to encounter people who have no goals?

  1.         Read Daniel 6:3. How would you understand Daniel’s “excellent spirit” that propelled him to greatness?

  1.         Read Proverbs 22:29. Do you think a “skillful” worker is an “excellent” worker?

  1.         What should we conclude after reading God’s word to Baruch, noting the spirit that God placed in Daniel, and seeing what Proverbs suggests for us as workers? (Our work should be excellent. But a focus on self that seeks personal greatness is the enemy of rest. Don’t be lazy, don’t be sloppy, but don’t deprive yourself of proper rest because you are driven. Seek excellence and balance it with rest.)

  1.         Rest in Time

  1.         Skim over Genesis 1 and read Genesis 2:1-3. How important are the things created in each of the days of Creation?

  1.         What does this structure suggest is the importance of Sabbath rest? (The structure gives it at least equal dignity with all of the things that are essential to life.)

  1.         Re-read Genesis 2:3. The Sabbath is “blessed” and “made holy.” Does that elevate its importance over what was accomplished during the prior days?

                                                

  1.         What do you conclude from the fact that God made the Sabbath part of the way He structured time - and the fact that this weekly cycle continues to this day?

  1.         Friend, will you take the cycle of work and rest seriously? Will you give it the priority that your Creator gives it?

  1.         Next week: Restless and Rebellious.
* Copr. 2021, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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