Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Last week our family was finally able to sneak away. We were able to spend 5 days down in Ocean City, MD. God blessed us with beautiful weather and the ocean water was just warm enough to be refreshing. In my opinion, there is nothing better than spending a day with your toes in the sand. Especially when that day also ends with a delicious meal and a cold margarita! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get away--to recharge and relax and spend time with family. In our country, our rhythms of work and rest are broken. Hard work and independence are among the greatest virtues in many of our cultures. Rest is reduced to laziness. Laziness and dependence are seen as failures. We are encouraged to hustle and hurry, to keep pushing and driving until our hard work is rewarded with what we want. Yet resting is an important part of our lives. Unfortunately, we seldom do it. We live in a culture that is always on the go—running from one appointment to another. We are overcommitted and trying to squeeze things into our already saturated calendars. Even when we are at home, we seldom sit as there are rooms to be cleaned, closets to be organized, and meals to be made. However, it is essential to take time to recharge. In fact, it is a scriptural mandate from God founded in creation and decreed in creation and in the 3rd commandment. What does it say? “Remember the Sabbath day.” Literally a day of rest… but what does this mean?
This rest day served several purposes for the children of Israel back in the Old Testament. Since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden, obtaining daily bread was toilsome; it required sweat and labor. For physical reasons a rest day was necessary. Physical rest was intended to rejuvenate all workers and the beasts of burden as well, for God said as much regarding the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10). But it wasn’t just about taking an extra long nap in the shade or giving the animals an extra heaping of feed. This day of “sabbath rest” also served as a means of setting God’s people apart from the heathen Gentiles around them. It served as a reminder that their God had sanctified them—set them apart, made them holy—just as He had set apart a holy day of rest. It was a day for thanksgiving, that God had delivered them and blessed them. This is why worship, prayer, and devotion is an essential part of “sabbath rest” also. It grounds us in our relationship with God and His providence in our lives. It is as if the Lord says, “While all your friends hit the golf course, shopping malls, fishing holes, and ballfields, you come find lasting “rest” in me. Come to me first, that you might receive blessings this world cannot give. You can go and have your fun later, but start your day with me. Receive my blessings. Stand out among your friends and family by taking time to spend with me spiritually. Give witness to who you are in me ”
Herein lies the most beautiful part of the Sabbath rest—receiving from God the good things He promises us. A couple of Sunday mornings ago, we heard the story of Mary and Martha in church. The 3rd commandment is an encouragement to listen, as Mary did, to the “one thing needful” by sitting at the feet of Jesus to hear His Word (Luke 10:38-42). When we go to the Word and worship the Lord in His house, we are reminded again of God’s care and grace that He so freely distributes; the deliverance of the past and His nonstop rescue from sin, death, and the devil. Believe me, as nice as it is to feel the sun and hear the crashing waves, we cannot find lasting strength and peace on the beach. Only in Jesus. The Sabbath rest is God’s way of saying, “I’m in charge. I’ll take care of you. Trust me.”
In today’s contemporary society, keeping the Sabbath may seem downright old-fashioned and countercultural. As Christians, we shouldn’t claim busyness, family pressures or fatigue as good excuses to forsake time spent with the Lord in prayer, devotion, and church attendance. Despite what catchy social media posts and phrases may tell you, being involved in the life of the church (the bride of Christ) does matter. Enjoying the gift of “Sabbath rest” is still relevant and mandated for us today. God built it in for a reason—we need rest after six days of work and time to turn our attention to the Lord. “Keeping it holy” means to set the day apart—different from any other day—a time to worship, refresh, rest and regroup for the week ahead. A time to invite God back into every aspect of your life and guide your future steps.
“As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope by which man rises.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Pastor Steve Vera