Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Matthew 11:28–30; 12:1, 2; Luke 14:1–6; John 5:9–16; Matthew 12:9–14; Isaiah 58:7–13
Why anyone would intentionally try to stay awake is a mystery to people who long for a long and uninterrupted night’s rest, but Randy Gardner broke a record without snoozing for 264.4 hours. The 16-year-old high school student from San Diego, California, stayed awake for 11 days and 24 minutes. It’s the longest period a human has purposefully gone without sleep without using stimulants.1
What keeps people from having a good night’s sleep? There are a wide range of factors such as stimulants, medications, hormones, mental disorders, the environment, and lifestyle choices. Certain over-the-counter medicines contain ingredients that can keep you awake. Another culprit is nicotine. Alcohol may help some people fall asleep, but it prevents deep sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation conducts annual polls to determine if Americans are getting enough rest. About 20 percent of US citizens get less than 6 hours of sleep on average and those that get 8 hours or more has decreased. Many try to do more in less time and use stimulants to stay awake. But it has led to poor work performance, driving accidents, relationship problems, and mood problems like anger and depression.2
In an age of stress, people need to hear more about how to get genuine rest. In this week’s Sabbath school lesson, the topic is on “Resting in Christ.” The memory text is fitting for today’s stressed-out individual. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
Christ offers us a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. The religion of Jesus is not weighed down with unnecessary rules in order to gain salvation. We are saved by grace, which transforms our hearts to serve from the motive of love—not personal gain. Christianity is a life of peace and freedom. The law does not restrict but protects us from choices that rob us of true rest.
Though the Pharisees made God’s rest day a time of rigid impossibilities, Jesus clarified the seventh day as a day for healing and restoration. As Lord of the Sabbath, Christ defined how to keep the fourth commandment in a way that drew people closer to God, taught them to show compassion for the hurting, and gave them refreshment through worship, fellowship, and time in nature.
Are you spiritually sleep-deprived? Perhaps it’s time you took the Sabbath seriously. It’s God’s antidote for stress and will bring you bona fide rest.
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