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In this message, we learn how to play, which is the carefree enjoyment of life.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty awesome video, watching a couple hundred middle schoolers and high schoolers say, “We’re going to give a week of our lives to go and focus on Jesus Christ and experience breakthrough.” And I couldn’t let this moment pass you by without letting you see the recap of that, the highlight of that. God is doing great things in the lives of the students that are here in this church. Hundreds of students saying, “I want to follow Jesus. I want to know Jesus. I don’t care what the world has to offer. I want everything Jesus has to offer me.” And this week is I got to watch that video, the preview of that during the week. And watching those students write their sins and their brokenness, and their pain down on paper, and throw it into the fire to say that, “Jesus Christ has taken care of everything in my life. And I am set free,” man, I got super emotional just this week, just thinking about all of those students. The next generation of followers of Jesus Christ, the next generation of mighty men and women of God, who get to stand on our shoulders and launch off of us to go further farther and deeper into the Kingdom, into the heart of the Father.

Because we’re willing to be a church that says, “It’s not about us.” That it’s not about our preferences and our opinions, and our rights. It’s about us raising up the next generation who is in love with Jesus Christ. I’m so proud of our students. I’m so proud of our church for being excited about the next generation. Man, the future is bright when the next generation loves Jesus. That’s all I’m telling you. You can be depressed by the things in the world. But when the next generation is excited about the kingdom of God, everything else changes. And when you watch that, you wanted to go to camp. Come on. I watched that, and I was like, “I want to be a student again. I want to go back to camp.” But actually, that’s what we’re going to talk about today in our message. We’re going to finish up our series on Rest. For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about living a lifestyle of rest. That as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be the most restful people on the face of the earth.

And we’ve talked about work. We’ve talked about rest. And we’re going to finish the series today by talking about play. And so, if you have your Bibles, turn with me to Matthew 18 and Deuteronomy 5. Matthew 18 and Deuteronomy 5. And let me just go ahead and say it right up front, the concept of play is an interesting topic to talk about in church. Anyone want to agree with that? In all my years of church, I’ve never heard a sermon on play. I’m just thinking about it this week, never. Not one time have I ever heard a sermon on play. And I was thinking about that. I was like, “What does the Bible have to say about play? And we like to play.” But as followers of Jesus, I think when we play, we’re not so sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Should we feel guilty? Should we feel bad about it? Should we be doing something else? And I was thinking about all the sermons I’ve heard throughout the years. And not only have I never heard anybody teach about play, most things that we teach about actually push play to the side. But we talked about destiny and purpose, and mission, and calling. And all that stuff is true and right. And we talk about it here all of the time. But what does the Bible have to say about play?

We actually need a theology of play. Because if you never engage in play, you won’t be able to enter into the lifestyle of rest that Jesus actually offers us. So, right up front, let’s go ahead. If you’re taking notes, here’s what I want you to write down. We’re going to set the definition of play so we’re all on the same page as we go through this. Play, it’s the carefree enjoyment of life. If you’re taking notes, you need to write this down so you’re tracking with the rest of what we’re talking about. It’s the carefree enjoyment of life. Or maybe said better, play is resting to enjoy the life that Jesus has given us. It’s all it is, carefree enjoyment of life. Now, when we talk about play, I’m not talking about sin. Okay? Sin is a cheap substitute for the things that God offers and always leads us down a road of destruction. I’m not talking about indulging yourself in your hobbies. Okay? So, guys, don’t elbow your wife and say, “Hey, hey. I can live with the hunting lease. John is talking about it.” Or, “I can golf 200 days a year.”
No, no. That’s called idolatry. That’s another message we’ll get to at another point in time. All right? Don’t suck me into that vortex. That’s not what we’re talking about. And we’re not talking about just going on vacation, playing with your kids with all of your work and your anxiety, and your stress still in your brain at the same time. We’re talking about the carefree enjoyment of life, play. Okay? So, Matthew 18, starting in verse one. It says, “At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” The disciples come to Jesus. And I think they asked a pretty fair question. They want to know, how do you become the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

I think it’s a fair question. They’ve left it all to follow Jesus, their family, their livelihood. I mean, they’ve sacrificed it all to follow Jesus. So, they just want to know like, “What’s the path of promotion?” Like, “How do we move up in your kingdom?” And I think if I’m the disciples, I’m thinking in their mind, they’re probably expecting Jesus to say something like this, like, “Hey, guys, that’s great that you want to be great in my kingdom. Here’s how you get there, you just got to work really hard. Or you got to achieve the most. Or you got to be the most effective ministers. Or how about this one? You got to come in the earliest and stay the latest. If you work harder than everybody else, you’ll be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” But that’s not what Jesus says. In fact, I think the disciples are completely shocked by Jesus’s answer. So, Jesus basically says, “You want to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven? That’s an awesome ambition. Then, become like this little child and have a childlike heart.” And like everything else in the kingdom of heaven, it’s the opposite of the kingdom of this world. You see it all over the scriptures. Jesus says, “You want to be the greatest leader? Then, be the greatest servant of all.”

He says, “You want to receive forgiveness? Then, go ahead and give forgiveness away. You want to receive some more things in your life? Then, go ahead and start giving more things away. You want to live?” Jesus says, “That’s great. You want to live? Then, go ahead and die to yourself. Pick up your cross and follow me.” It’s the opposite of the kingdom of this world. So, Jesus says, “You want to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? That’s awesome. Then, become like a child. Because the heart of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And we’ve heard this passage before. And we’ve heard Jesus talk about children. And in our minds, when we think about the childlike qualities that Jesus is talking about, we think of things like teachability. The children are just very teachable. And they want to learn. And they want to grow. And they want you to teach them things. We think that children are full of wonder. That they’re full of awe and inspiration. And they love exploring and seeing new things. We think of children that they’re obedient, right? Parents, at least most of the time, children are obedient. You’re telling them what to do, and they’re willing to do it. We think of humility.

That children are humble. That they know that they haven’t got it all together. That they are dependent upon other people. We think of faith, that children have this incredible faith. You tell them one time and they just believe it. And well, all of those are true. And what Jesus is talking about here, what do children do more than anything else?

They play. They wake up in the morning, they play all day. And they go to bed at night. They have a carefree enjoyment of life. So, Jesus is saying, “The greatest in the kingdom of heaven has a heart that is willing to have a carefree enjoyment of life.” That’s what the kingdom of heaven is all about. That’s how you advance in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is saying… and I love it, what he does in verse two. It literally says, “He called the child and had him stand among them.” How many of you know that child was not sitting there taking notes, listening to Jesus as He was teaching? That child was in the mud doing something. Crawling on his parents. Frustrating the parent while the parent was trying to take notes. And Jesus grabs that child, probably right in the middle of play, stands on right there and points to the disciples, and says, “This is what I am talking about.

This is what the kingdom of heaven is all about, a carefree enjoyment of life.” And I was thinking what Peter’s face must look like in that moment when Jesus was teaching that. Because they just didn’t get it. And we know they didn’t get it because one chapter later in Matthew 19, one chapter after that teaching. Matthew 19:13, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. And Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to them, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is a place of joy and peace, and rest, and play. That the kingdom of heaven is a place of carefree enjoyment of life.”

You see, I don’t know about you, but I grew up too fast. In my life, I grew up too fast. I moved from being a child to be an adult way too fast. And I would bet most of you in this room probably have a similar story. Because most people sitting in here are adults. And somewhere along the way, we go from having that childlike heart full of wonder and awe, and play. That carefree enjoyment of life. And we transition into this thing called adulthood. And it seems like it happens almost overnight. And then, the thought of play almost becomes laughable. I don’t even have time to think about playing, let alone play. I’m an adult, I’ve got to work. And I’ve got burdens and activities, and events, and schedules, and requirements, and commitments. I’m an adult. I’ve got to do all these kinds of things. And the more in my life I’ve walked down this journey of adulthood, the more Jesus has invited me to come back and live like a child. And to be honest with you, it wasn’t until I had my two kids that I started to really learn what the kingdom of heaven was all about, what the Father heart of God was really all about.

My kids have taught me more about that than anybody else. So much so that I want to show you this picture of my four-year-old little girl Emma. Okay? That is one beautiful girl, is it not? And she knows how to play. I mean, look at that face. Look at how happy she is. That girl knows how to play. She wakes up in the morning, she plays all day long. She goes to bed at night, she figures out how to get her toys and bed with her at night so she can keep playing even if she’s trying to sleep. No stress. No worry. No anxiety. No fear. That girl plays princess tea parties like nobody’s business. She’s got the Brave wig going on there. A few moments after this, she put on a little mermaid costume to go with the Brave wig. And that was a day that me and Emma had an amazing princess tea party. And I can’t show you the picture of what I looked like during that tea party. I wasn’t willing to go there. So, I’ll just show you her picture and show you what a great time that we had. And that girl knows how to play. And I love watching her play. I love watching her be full of joy and excitement, and passion, and inspiration, and creativity.

I love watching her mind go. And that day when we had that princess tea party, it was an amazing day. And I wanted to take a picture, that picture, so I wouldn’t forget it. Because you see, I delighted in my little girl as I watched her play. My heart was full watching her enjoy life. You see, I want my little girl to enjoy life. I want her to enjoy the things that I have given her. I want her to enjoy the things in our home. I want her to enjoy the relationship with her brother and me, and Colleen, and her friends. I want her to enjoy everything. And I don’t want to see her work and strive, and perform. I just want to see her enjoy. So, I want to take care of everything in her life so she can have a carefree enjoyment of life. And that day when I took that picture, I was looking at it on my phone. And after her and I were done playing princess tea party and all the costumes, plural, were taken off… You can use your imagination there. I was looking at that picture on my phone, and I felt like the Holy Spirit just whispered to me and said, “John, the same way you delight in that little girl when she plays is the way I delight in you when you play.”

And I remember sitting there thinking about, from what I’m thinking like, “Really, God? You delight in me when I play?” And I started just unpacking and thinking about that little girl and that smile. I’m thinking, I love when she is carefree and enjoys the life I’ve given her. And God was saying, “I love…” He loves when I am carefree and enjoy the life that He has given me. And I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it or not. But God not only delights in you, He delights in you when you play. Listen to Zephaniah 3:17. It says, “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior Who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will rest in silence satisfaction.” He will rest to enjoy carefree, the life that he has given you. And in his love, He will be silent and make no mention of past sins or even recall them. We think God’s always focused on our sins. Hebrews tells us He has forgotten them.

He doesn’t even remember them anymore. He will exalt over you with singing. God delights in you. And He delights in you when you play, when you enjoy the life that He has given you. He wants you to trust him enough that you can literally enjoy everything that’s right there in front of you. In fact, everything He’s given you, He wants you to enjoy it. 1 Timothy 6:17, “God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” He wants you to play, have a carefree enjoyment of life. And so, here’s the question I want to ask you. I want to show you that picture one more time. Here’s the question I want to ask you. When was the last time your heart looked like that? When was the last time? When was the last time you just played like that? See, that’s a picture of the kingdom of heaven. When was the last time you just went for a walk? Or read a book? Or were creative? Or did some art or dance or laughed until your stomach hurt? Or enjoyed your hobby? Or enjoyed a sport? When was the last time you played attend princess tea parties?

All right. Guys, that’s what I’m trying to say. When was the last time you just played, had a carefree enjoyment of the life that God has placed right in front of you? But if we’re honest with ourselves, we say, “We don’t have time for that.” Like, we’re too serious. Some of us even right now are stoic and sitting back like, “Play? We don’t talk about that in church.” We get so stoic. Because we’ve been so conditioned to be religious. But do you realize, I don’t have to teach that little girl how to play. I have to teach her how to work. And for some reason, we become adults. And no longer do we need to be taught how to work. We need to be taught how to play, how to rest, to enjoy the life that Jesus has given us. Because the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those with a childlike heart. And you’ll see it all over the Bible. I do read through the Scriptures and look at the humanity of people in the Bible. Think about Abraham. You’re going to tell me Abraham didn’t play with Isaac? The child he waited 25 years for the promise.

And God shows up in amazing way, gives him this promise child. You’re telling me that Abraham wasn’t rolling in the mud with Isaac and playing with a ball, and just shooting bow and arrows just for fun with Isaac, whose name literally means laughter? Of course, he played. Look at the humanity. How about Noah? After 40 days and 40 nights on an ark with a bunch of animals, that probably become your pets. When they landed on dry ground, and let all those pets go. Noah and his sons were running around, jumping and dancing, and having fun with those animals that became like pets to them. Or how about David? When he brings the ark into the city of Jerusalem, it says, “David danced before the Lord with all of his mind.” And David had some moves, right? When he danced, carefree enjoyment of law. I don’t have moves. But David had some moves, right? He had carefree enjoyment of life. How about God Himself in Genesis? When it says, “For six days, God made everything. And He saw that it was very good.”

And the very next verse says, “And so, God rested.” He didn’t rest because He was tired. He rested to enjoy the very things that He created. How about Jesus? What comes into your mind when you think about Jesus? Do you see him as this stoic, serious, driven person? Or do you see Jesus as the life-giving, God of grace with a smile across his face, walking through the crowds, going up to the children and joining in with their games? I mean, just think of Jesus, his first miracle. Your first miracle says a lot about you. In John 2, Jesus’s first miracle, right? Okay. Do you ever get a first miracle? It says a lot about you, I’m just saying. It says a lot about you, right? John 2, it’s his first miracle. Jesus and the disciples are with his mother, Mary. And they’re at a wedding feast. In Jesus’s day, wedding feast lasted seven days. Okay? Everybody’s having a great time as these seven days are going by. Everybody, but the father in law. He’s just seeing dollar signs flashed through as every day is going by, right?

They’re having a great time. And at the party, it says, “They run out of wine.” And Mary comes to Jesus and says, “Jesus, will you do something? We talked about it a few weeks ago.” He actually steps back and says, “My time has not come.” But then, Mary tells the servants, “Whatever he tells you to do, do it.” And so, Jesus looks at these ceremonial pots. The ceremonial jars that are over here that were used for religious purposes. The Jews always had to wash their hands all the time. It was this religious burden, this religious baggage in order to be considered clean before God. And Jesus tells the servants, “Fill up those religious pots full of water, and then scoop some out. Take it to the party.” And the water turned to wine. Jesus’s first miracle. His first miracle was not giving somebody sight or giving somebody hearing, or raising somebody from the dead, or casting out a demon, or healing somebody from leprosy. Jesus, his first miracle was for no other reason than so the party could go on.

Serious?

It changes your whole view of Jesus, if you see it that way. And here’s what He says in that moment. He says, “The kingdom has arrived and it’s time to celebrate.” You see, it’s prophetic that He uses those religious things. He says, “The burden of religion is over. I have just showed up. And when I am here, it’s time to celebrate.” Read how He talks about the kingdom. He calls the kingdom a banquet, a feast, a homecoming, a party. The Psalms tell us Jesus laugh. In Luke 10, it says, “Jesus is so full of joy.” And the word literally means Jesus is leaping and shouting. When was the last time you pictured Jesus just leaping and shouting, just free like all over the place, right? But that’s what it says. And what we want to do is we want to separate Jesus and joy. We want to say Jesus is over here with all the religious stuff, and joy is over here with all the sin of the world. You can’t separate them. In fact, the very essence of the kingdom of God is joy. The essence of the kingdom of this world is despair. But the essence of the kingdom of God is joy.

The environment, the culture, everything about it is joy. Listen to these verses, Romans 14:17. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always. Pray continuously. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.” God’s will is that you’d be joyful. How about Nehemiah 8:10? “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Or Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” And again, I say, rejoice. The very essence of the kingdom of God is joy. And he wants us to have a carefree enjoyment of the life He has given us in Jesus Christ. But here’s our problem. We work until we get completely exhausted. And then, we just want to rest to recover. It’s the cycle that most of us live in. We work till exhaustion, stress, burdens, anxiety, work, kids, activities also. We work until we’re exhausted. Then, we just want to rest to recover.

And we want to sit on the couch and flip on the TV, and just veg out to get ourselves back together. Because we know we got to go back to the work of exhaustion and all of that. That’s the cycle we live in. I don’t know about you, that don’t sound like the abundant life that Jesus offered. Nothing about that sounds abundant. And that’s not what Jesus offers us. He says, “Work. Bring heaven to earth.” We talked about it the first week. He says, “Then, rest, not from things, but for things. Hear my voice, get to know my heart.” So, we talked about it last week. And then, he says, “Play.” He says, “Play.” Don’t just rest to recover, rest to enjoy. See, we get the work part down and the rest part down. We forget the enjoy part as followers of Jesus. In fact, play is the highest form of rest. It’s the highest form of rest. Because in play, you’re not resting to recover. You’re just resting to enjoy the life that Jesus has given you. Just play, carefree enjoyment of our life in Jesus. Are you with me on that?

Some of you are like, “I’m still not sure.” Okay. So, let me give you a couple of thoughts on this. All right?

Three little thoughts I want to give you that can write down. Flip over to Deuteronomy 5. And let me give you three thoughts. Let’s try to pull this together. First thing is this, play is an expression of our freedom in Christ. Play is literally an expression of our freedom in Christ. Carefree enjoyment of life. Kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children, those with a childlike heart. Deuteronomy 5, it’s the 10 commandments. And you know the 10 commandments. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we like nine out of the 10. We’re good with nine out of the 10. We’re really good with, “Do not lie. Do not commit adultery. Do not have any other gods. Do not create idols.” All of those make sense. But there’s one of the 10 commandments we just think is irrelevant, and we push to the side. And it’s, honor the Sabbath. For some reason, we think that that died out in Jewish days with the Israelites. Like it’s irrelevant to us. But it’s full of life. Listen to what God says, this is 10 commandments. Verse 12, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.

Six days you shall labor and do your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son, or your daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” Okay. The Sabbath. We’re not really so sure what to think about the Sabbath, right? We just know we’re not supposed to work. And we’re supposed to rest. But what does that mean? On the Sabbath, are you supposed to just sit in your living room with your hands folded and just sit there silently and quiet all day? That doesn’t mean you’re supposed to do a bunch of religious things. Like follow all these religious rules and regulations, but not too many because you don’t want it to be work. But you got to do just enough to make sure it’s like, “Where’s that fine line?”

Or is it a day where we’re supposed to sit there and be sin conscious? And think about all the stuff that we’ve done wrong and all our failures, and all our mistakes? We’re not really so sure what the Sabbath is all about. And what’s interesting is God is quiet about the Sabbath. He doesn’t actually put that many parameters around it. Here’s what we do know, God says, “Do not work. Do not gather. Do not build.” But other than that, He’s pretty quiet. And here’s what I think God is saying with the Sabbath, “Stop doing what you have to do so that you can start doing what you get to do.” Stop doing what you have to do, like work and gather, and build, and create so that you can start doing what you get to do. Play and be free. And enjoy the life that I’ve given you. God says, “Take some time to just stop working and enjoy the freedom that I’ve given you.” You see, the Sabbath reminds us of our freedom. But look at verse 15. “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

Therefore, because you were slaves, but now you’re free, the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” And here’s what God does in that moment, He links the Sabbath and freedom together. He says, “I never want you to forget that you were slaves in Egypt, but now you’re the children of Israel.” See, remember the Israelites, 400 years of slavery. 400 years of slavery. God says, “Don’t forget to remember when you were a slave, not only could you not rest, but play.” Play? Are you kidding me? You have a taskmaster telling you what to do, when to do it, how to do it, when to wake up, when to go to bed, make bricks without straw and all those crazy things. You were slaves. You had no freedom. You couldn’t rest. You couldn’t play. Are you kidding me? God says, “But you’re not a slave anymore.” He says, “You’re now a child of Israel.” He says, “And I am your father. And I want you to start living like a child. And what do children do? They?

They play. He says, “So, take some time off. The Sabbath is about stop doing what you have to do, and start to do what you get to do. Enjoy the freedoms that I have given you. Go for a walk. Take a hike. Enjoy a conversation. Play a game. Do something fun. Do something different.” You see, to never play is to deny the very freedom that Jesus gave you. We have no taskmasters anymore. We have no taskmasters. Galatians 4:7, “You’re not slaves, you’re sons and daughters.” And sons and daughters play. They have a carefree enjoyment of life. I mean, have you ever talked to somebody that has gotten out of prison, out of jail, or those about to get out of jail? It’s really interesting if you have a conversation with them. And everybody I’ve ever talked to, it’s almost the exact same thing. They say something like this. They’re like, “Man, what are you going to do when you get out of jail?” The first thing that I’ll say is like, “I just can’t wait to go outside and stand, and soak in the sun’s rays.” And then, they say, “I just want to go and enjoy the relationships that I’ve had, that I haven’t been able to engage in all these years.

And then, I just want to enjoy the freedoms that I have that I couldn’t do while I was in prison. They just want to go out and have this carefree enjoyment of life. And what God is telling us with the Sabbath is, “Never forget you were a prisoner, but you are now free.” Colossians 1:13, 14, “For he has rescued us…” Okay? He didn’t rescue us out of a physical prison. He rescued us out of a spiritual prison, which is much worse than a physical prison. “From the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Here’s what He’s saying, “The taskmasters are gone. The taskmaster of sin, the law and death, it’s gone in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s all been taken care of. So, start enjoying the freedoms that I’ve given you.” You see, your view of how powerful you think the crosses will determine whether or not you’ll play. Your view of how big you think the crosses will determine the play in your life.

You think the cross is powerful enough to take care of all things at all times, you will play and enjoy the life that God has given you. But if you think the cross is only powerful enough to just get you into heaven, but now you need to work and take care of the rest, you’re never going to stop and play. And what happens is we get these little taskmasters that live in our mind. They’re not real. Jesus has defeated them. But they live in our mind. And they tell us things like, “Play? You don’t even have time to rest, let alone playing. You got to go. You got to make that sale. You got to make that deal. You got to finish that commitment. You got to make that thing happen. You got to go here. You got to go do there. You got to take the kid here. You got to fix this thing in your house. You got to do this thing.” These little taskmasters live in our mind, and they dominate us. And we bow to them as if we’re still in bondage, the way the Israelites always wanted to go back to Egypt. And thought they were still in Egypt. And we live under this taskmaster. And a good father is saying to you, “Stop. Stop. You’re not a slave. You’re a son.” And fathers take care of everything for their sons and daughters, so they can be free to enjoy life. All those cares, He says, “I’ve carried to the cross so you have a carefree enjoyment of life.”

Because if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. Is anybody free in this place today?

Different way of thinking. Okay. The second thing is this, is that play as a foreshadow of heaven. These are quick. Let me pull us together for you. Play as a foreshadow of heaven. Maybe six months ago or so, my six-year-old little boy came up to me out of nowhere. And he just popped one of those big theology questions. He says, “Daddy.” He says, “What is heaven going to be like, Daddy?” And so, I’m sitting there and thinking, “Okay. Heaven is already hard to explain, six-year-old boy, accurate theology.” I’m trying to formulate this response in my mind. And as I’m thinking about it, he just stops me. He says, “Never mind, Daddy.” He says, “I know what heaven is going to be like. Never mind. You don’t need to answer.” And I said, “Really? Well, what’s heaven going to be like?” He says, “Daddy, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re just going to play all day long with Jesus. It’s going to be amazing, Daddy. And I really think you should come.”

It’s a really good idea, Trey. I’m thinking I’m going to try to be there too.

And so, he says, “It’s just playing all day long with Jesus.” And I’m sitting there. In my religious mind, the little taskmaster religion thinking starts saying, “Well, that’s not right. So, how am I going to break it to him and try to accurately push back?” But the more I thought about it, the more I had to go to Scriptures. And catch this, Zechariah 8:5, talking about heaven. It says, “The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” My six-year-old has a better theology of heaven than most people in the world. A carefree enjoyment of life. We have such a hard time grasping that concept. Because we don’t see him as a father, we see him as a taskmaster. It’s a foreshadow of heaven. Do you realize in heaven, it’s just enjoyment? We’ll enjoy the relationships of everybody who’s there worshipping Jesus. We’ll enjoy creation, the new heavens and the new earth. And we’ll enjoy unbroken fellowship face to face with Jesus. That’s heaven, carefree enjoyment of life.

And here’s the amazing part. The Bible says, “You’re not even a citizen of this Earth right now. In Jesus, you’re already a citizen of Heaven.” You don’t even belong to this Earth. You already belong to Heaven. And if we’re a citizen of Heaven, and our job is to bring Heaven to Earth, and play happens in Heaven, a carefree enjoyment of life, shouldn’t we bring in play to this Earth? So, when we play, it’s literally Heaven to Earth. But what we say is, “I don’t have time to enjoy relationships. I’m just trying to manage all these crazy dysfunctional relationships in my life. Creation? I don’t even look at creation. I just got to rip by to get to the next thing that I got to get to. God Himself? I’d love to enjoy God, but I just don’t have time for it.” And we miss out. When we bring Heaven to Earth, when we play, you’re literally bringing the joy of having the essence of the kingdom into that very moment where you’re at. Maybe let me say it like this. Play is just stopping to enjoy the goodness of God. Taste and see that the Lord is good. When was the last time you stopped to enjoy the goodness of God and the sunrise?

Or the goodness of God and a great conversation with a trusted friend? Or the goodness of God and laughing till your stomach hurts? That’s play. It’s a foreshadow of heaven. And what’s amazing is for those of you that like active play, like crazy, adventurous kind of stuff, and your brain checks out, and you go and do all this active stuff. When you’re done, you feel so refreshed and recharged. You should be exhausted, but you’re refreshed and recharged. Why? Because you just had a taste of heaven, carefree enjoyment of life. It’s a foreshadow. And the last thing is this, is that play is effective ministry. Play is effective ministry. Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, what about mission? And what about purpose, and all those different kinds of things?” Awesome. Let’s talk about mission real quick. Go back to the Sabbath. Jesus says, “I want you guys to work for six days really hard, bring heaven to earth, right to the Israelites. And then, on the seventh day, I want you to rest. And all I want you to do, I don’t want you to work, gather or create. I just want you to enjoy the life that I’ve given you. And I will bless you more in those seven days with one day of rest and play than you could ever do on your own in working the full seven days.”

And here’s what God is saying. He’s saying, “When you stop on that day to rest and play and enjoy the life that I have given you, all the other nations around you will see that. And they will be drawn to you which will ultimately draw them to me.” Because you see, no other God at that time ever told us people to rest. They were demonic spirits. Demonic forces pushing people, striving people, taskmasters. So, when the Canaanites see the Israelites stopping to enjoy life, there’s something crazy different about that. And they’re drawn to it. We think about joy. Joy is one of the most attractive things in the world, is it not? When you see somebody full of joy, they’re attractive. You’re inspired by them. You want to figure out, you’re drawn to them. Think about a little kid. There’s a little kid over here playing, and another kid walks in the room. It’s like magnets, right? This kid walks in sees this kid playing, bang. They’re just drawn right in. Because why?

Because they want to be a part of the fun. And the Bible tells us, we are supposed to carry around the fragrance of Christ. The truth is some of us are carrying a fragrance but don’t smell like Jesus. I’m just saying. Right? I’m just saying. I’m just saying. And we walk around with this mopey, depressed eerie spirit like, “Oh, well. I’m just so full of joy in Jesus. I’m really free. Would you like to know my god?” “No. No. No, I want nothing to do with that, if that’s the life.” And that’s how a lot of us live. Listen, are you exuding the joy you’re trying to invite other people to? Are you exuding the joy in your life you’re trying to invite other people to in Jesus? If we’re citizens of the kingdom of heaven, ambassador, shouldn’t we bring bringing the joy of heaven to the moment, to the place that we’re living if that’s the very essence of the kingdom of God?

Maybe we’d be a whole lot more effective in ministry if we would just stop to play a little bit and enjoy the life that Jesus has given us through the cross of Jesus Christ. And I share all this with you because it’s my own journey. See, I struggle with this. That little taskmaster, he lives in my brain. And every time there’s a moment of rest or play, he tells me, “No, no. You need to read a book. You need to build something. You need to be strategic. You need to fix something in the home. You need to do the next thing. You don’t have time for this.” That taskmaster, he is alive and well in my brain. And I’ve had to learn to kill him over time and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is counter to the voices of this world. And it feels almost awkward at first. But then, the more you press in and you read the scriptures, and you know Jesus says, “Have a childlike heart,” you’re like, “Okay, Holy Spirit. This is coming from you.” And the crazy part about it is the more that I’ve stepped into play and carefree enjoyment of the life Jesus has given me, the better husband I’ve become. The better father I’ve become. The better friend I’ve become. The better minister I’ve become. Listen, I used to work on my sermon all seven days of the week.

I would always be working on it. It would always be with me. But now on Friday, my day off, it stays in the binder. I put it away, and I play. And I become a better speaker because of it. Some of you are like, “No. Now, we know. You’re playing too much. Now, we know.” No. Why? Because in play, it centers you. It reminds you of what’s important. You become an encourager. You become life-giving. You become inspired and notice the things around you. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 that, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” A cheerful heart, a joyful, a playful heart is good medicine. God has given us the prescription for medicine in our lives. And some of you have never filled it. You’re sitting there with 20, 30 years of stress and anxiety in your life. And God’s telling you, “Hey, the way to get rid of that is just enjoy a little bit of the life that I’ve given you, and it would just be released.” But that’s not where we go. We press back, and we press on. And we stay in this place of being taskmasters. And feeling like we don’t have any freedom in Jesus, and we miss out.

Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to get you to heaven. He died so you can have an abundant life, and be free. And so, here’s the cycle, lifestyle of rest, and I’m done. He says, “Work. Bring heaven to earth. Steward and tend your garden, then rest. Don’t rest from things like you’re always tired. Rest for something to hear my voice and know my heart, and then play. Enjoy the life I’ve given you. Enjoy the freedoms in Jesus.” And when you play, you actually get excited about going back to work and bringing heaven to earth, and resting, and playing. And we find ourselves in the cycle. You see, I know some of you are probably thinking, “Well, you can’t tell people to play because they want to advance the kingdom. Mission will stop, and they’ll step back.” It’s actually the opposite. Because in play, you find the full nature of the freedom in Jesus. You’re creative. You have inspiration. You discover your destiny.

You discover your calling. Your ears are open to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to say to you. And you become so inspired by the goodness and the greatness of Jesus in your life, that you actually can’t wait to go back to work, no matter how bad you think your job is. Because you know you’re bringing heaven to earth. And you stay in that cycle with Jesus. That’s the lifestyle of rest that He offers us. There’s something about looking at a little kid that we’re all drawn to. We all want to be like a little kid, somewhere in our heart. We don’t want to change the diapers or do the feeding. We want the freedom. And the amazing part is, is the Bible says in Jesus, “We’re already sons and daughters. We just need to learn to live like it.” A lifestyle of rest comes down to one word, trust. To trust Jesus enough to let go. Believing He will provide and protect. That He will take care of things that I’m not in control anyways.

And then, I can actually play because I don’t have to work for approval from God. I’ve already got full approval in Jesus Christ. And so, I am fully redeemed. And I can enjoy everything He has set before me. So, you close your eyes with me and just take a moment. What’s the Holy Spirit saying to you today? What is He whispering your heart and in your life? I realized this is different. And sometimes, the hardest thing to break is the religious thinking that we’ve been conditioned with. We think it doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t feel right. We’re not sure like, should we really be able to have a carefree enjoyment of life? The answer is yes.

We just need to learn to receive that revelation. What’s the Holy Spirit’s saying to you? Some of you, He’s just whispering. And He showed me that little picture of my little girl’s face and saying, “I want your heart to look like this again. And I delight in you when you’re enjoying the life that I’ve given you.” Some of you, God’s inviting you to this place of rest. And you’ve been fighting it this whole series. But today is the day to let down your guard and just say, “All right, Jesus, I surrender. I give up. I don’t want to live the life of exhaustion and work and recovery. I just want to live the life of rest that you offer.” And some of you, maybe you’re here and you’re thinking, “This all sounds great. But I need Jesus to start.” And you’re right. And so, maybe it’s as simple as praying something like this. You say, “Jesus, I receive everything you want to give me. And I release my sin. And I accept your forgiveness. And I take your righteousness and your holiness and your purity upon me. You are now…

And I have a good Father. Because of you, Jesus Christ, I become a child of God. And I will walk with you all the days of my life. And I’m going to enter into that place of rest right now. Lifestyle of rest is only found in Jesus Christ. And I pray that we would have hearts to receive everything that He has for us. So, Jesus, thank you for the cross. Thank you for the finished work. Thank you that because you stood up for us, the psalmist says, we are free to run and play and may we have childlike hearts, and fully embrace everything that kingdom is. If you’re here today and you need prayer for anything, we’re going to have people up here to pray for you. Maybe you need prayer for this topic, prayer for breakthrough, prayer for just healing in your body. Come up and let us pray for you. If you’re new to Valley Creek, I’d love to invite you to the guest central. I’ll be in there with some of our leaders. We just want to introduce ourselves to you and tell you that we’re glad that you’re here. But I pray you go rejoicing this week with a childlike heart and a lifestyle of rest. I love you. Have a blessed week.

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