Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
“And they will know we are Christian by our love, by our love…”
This is the hymn we sang in church this past Sunday. It is a favorite of many. But what if we sang this song, “And they will know we are Christians by our social media feed…” Would this be true of you? Would you loudly and proudly sing this refrain also, or would you sheepishly slink back into the pew? In the highlight reels of your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, is your faith and devotion to God obvious? Whether it be blatant or subtle, such modern-day outlets provide an easy platform to “…always give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) No doubt, a quick glance through anyone's social media accounts will tell you all sorts of things about them—whether you want to know them or not. Their favorite football team. Their political preferences. The organizations they support. Their most recent Wordle score. How they spend their weekends. Probably even where some of their favorite places are to eat. We have no problem, and often given no second thought, to posting our personal opinions on current events and a whole slew of other items. But can you do me a favor? Imagine a world where we, followers of Jesus, spoke as freely and bravely about our faith and the Gospel of Jesus as we do about politics and sports. How awesome would that be?!
Sadly, there is often a big disconnect. We go through the motions of church on Sunday mornings, but our hearts are still bitter and untrusting. We are combative and cynical in how we deal with others that don't agree with us. Intentionally or not, we display that we are angrier and more disgusted in the world than we are steadfast and trusting in the God who reigns and rules over it. The prophet Isaiah warned about this, and it was then quoted by Jesus Himself, “And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” (NLT Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8) Throughout history, the people of God have become so entrenched and distracted by worldly things that they no longer look to the Creator, they no longer mimic His heart of mercy and compassion. Far too often, we do the Christian thing--occasionally and when it is convenient--but we lack consistency. We lambaste all the foolish stances and opinions of others. We stand on our secular soap boxes over a whole variety of topics, but we keep silent about the eternal truth which truly matters. We shut up and do nothing about the mission our God invites us into, to seek and save lost souls for Him. This has ailed the church for years. Looking deeper into our own social media diaries will provide a humbling diagnostic. Are your posts filled with love or vitriol? Kindness or contempt? Sympathy or sarcasm? Do you offer compassionate words of unity or polarizing words of division? Are the memes and images you share going to sow discord or bring people together? Do they seek to build people up, or tear down all those that disagree with you?
This is the conversation I had yesterday morning with a former member and friend of mine. He is a great, insightful man with solid integrity. His concern stemmed out of seeing so many of his “church friends” act in very un-Christlike ways. I echo those concerns—especially when so many in my feed are former or current church members. To be sure, we’ve all been guilty of this. I’m sure if we scroll back through our history and past memories, we will find posts that would embarrass us if Jesus now stood by our side. Our feeds are far from flattering. We know full well that we have shared and sent things that our Savior would never retweet. This is true of me. I’m guilty. I’ve taken my mind off godly things to obsess over worldly things and ridicule or demonize people. Thank you, Jesus, for the patience and mercy you show to me. Thanks be to God, there is grace for every time we misstep and every time we fail to accurately represent the Jesus we follow.
But this is also a relevant time to recall the impact our witness can have—good or bad. Let us be love-bringing, walking-billboards for our God. Let us be different than the unbelievers or the non-church goers in our midst. Especially during this yearly time of election cycles, it is a helpful reminder to stand out and be better than the mud-slinger commentators around us. Let the world know you are Christians by your love, whether that be in-person or on-line!
“The Christians needs to walk in peace, so no matter what happens they will be able to bear witness to a watching world.” (Henry Blackaby)
“A Christian who doesn’t give good witness is a contradiction in terms.” (Adrian Rogers)
“The greatest way to witness is through the life you live. Let the radiance of your Christian life be such that it will make others ask questions about the beauty of your faith.” (Billy Graham)
The Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the heart of the Gaza Strip was a point of much conflict with militant Palestinians for several years. The conflict was so great that the settlement was evacuated in 2005. Those who lived in Netzarim did so at great personal risk because they felt it was an important part of keeping their land free. A schoolteacher, Shlomit Ziv, who lived in Netzarim in 2001 said, “I don’t live where it’s comfortable; I live where it’s important to live.”
These are powerful words. Consider the application to our lives as Christians when it comes to serving others and giving a bold witness to the Jesus we follow. What would happen if Christians quit worrying about being comfortable and started doing what was important to God? What would happen if we started to see our homes and neighborhoods as important places to live for the sake of our Lord’s mission—leading lost souls to Him? Thanks be to God we don’t live in a country where we must regularly worry about militant takedowns and fleeing our homes. That being said, the people around us, and our own lives as well, are constantly under assault by many worldly distractions and expectations.
It is an unfortunate truth that people are often self-centered and form habits that serve themselves, sometimes even at the cost of others. This is due to our sinful nature that convinces us that serving ourselves is what is best and will make us happiest. However, as Christians, we are called to live differently, not like the rest of the world. This past Sunday, we heard these red-letter words of Jesus, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Instead of looking to serve ourselves, we should look to serve Jesus Christ foremost. And how do we do that? By serving others with no strings attached, by shining the gospel light of Jesus into the hurting hearts and broken lives of those around us. Jesus is the perfect example of service towards others. He came to the world and rather than be served by others, He himself served others with kindness and humility. From healing those who were sick or possessed and washing the disciple’s feet to dying a gruesome death on the cross, Jesus shows us what real love and the heart of a servant truly looks like.
There’s a good book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. He makes an important distinction between true service—as shown by Jesus—and ‘self-service’. He writes: “Self-service is about choosing who and when we will serve. (Often with much consideration to how it might be repaid or how it could benefit us later down the road.) It’s about serving to make ourselves feel better. But true service means putting yourself out, not for personal glory. In God’s eyes all people are worth serving. It means acting wherever and whenever it is needed.” Seeing a need and getting to work; putting faith into action. The Bible uses these kinds of phrases 58 times: “Love one another.” “Care for one another.” “Pray for one another.” “Encourage one another.” “Help one another.” “Counsel one another.” “Support one another.” And on and on the list goes. It is the mutual ministry of every believer in the family of God to every other believer in the family of God. That’s the way God meant for it to be. We are to be difference-makers. The late American evangelist, D. L. Moody wrote the following words next to Isaiah 6:8 in his Bible: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” This was a reflection of Isaiah’s call into ministry--“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” May our church be filled with eager, faithful, and willing servants… here we are Lord, send us! Use us!
“Jesus is calling us to put ourselves last and not first. We serve because we want to be more like Jesus.” RLC
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” (M. Gandhi)
As you likely know, if you've been reading through these posts over the past several months, I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to coach my son’s baseball team and my daughter’s softball team. While coaching baseball or softball, you are inevitably going to watch a few mishaps. This is especially true when you are coaching young children who are just learning how to play the game; but it is also true when you are watching the professionals play. Even the best of players will have an error. Even the most impressive hitters will strike out. However, what is most important when such miscues happen is how quickly the player moves on. They can’t sit and sulk after a swing-and-a-miss. They can’t beat themselves up over a botched play. They have to move on. They must turn the page. Quickly. They must leave the miscues in the past so they can focus on the next pitch or the next play. And they certainly cannot allow themselves to be defined by their misfortune.
That truth about baseball is the truth about life: Errors are part of the rigorous truth of being human. But they do not define or distort who we are as baptized children of God. This is the heart of our Red Letter theme for the week—forgiveness. We all know that we are bound to make a mistake from time-to-time. This is the reality of sin. We all fall short of the glory of God—no matter how many seasons we’ve been in the league. Errors are part of life. No one can follow the rules perfectly. So, the question then becomes how do we respond when people – when we – commit errors? We cherish the incredible promises of scripture—that we have a God who is “faithful and just, and promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) God tells us that we are not defined by our sins, but by His grace. We are not defined by our failures, but by His faithfulness. We are not defined by our errors, but by His redeeming love. No dropped shoulders or hanging heads—our posture is one of thanksgiving and praise. We can wipe off the dirt and the shame or embarrassment of our mistakes and move on—because we are loved and treasured by our God. This is a great quote from our Red Letter reading, “THERE IS NO SIN TOO BIG THAT GOD DID NOT DIE FOR ON THE CROSS.” What wonderful words those are! Jesus died on the cross for ALL our sins! Not just some. He didn’t die for just the “little” sins. Or, for that matter, the BIG sins. He died for ALL of them! Every fielding error. Every dropped flyball. Every overthrow. Every strikeout.
“No matter what I do on the baseball field, no matter how hard I try to be a good player, or a good husband, or a good father… I can never do enough. I can never be perfect in this world. But God is there to tell me that it’s not what you do, it is whom you believe in, and I believe in Him who loves me.” (Mark Teixeira, former Yankee first baseman)
“Every time I pray, I ask for forgiveness. I’m a sinner. I sin every single day. But I do know that God loves me. I do know that God forgives me. It helps me in life because there’s nothing anyone can do to me that I can’t forgive them for.” (Mark Teixeira, former Yankee first baseman)
“Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.” (Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals)
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
The New York Football Giants are undefeated. Granted, it is only one game. But nevertheless—after over five and half years of not being a single game over .500—my favorite football team finally has a winning record. Long-suffering Big Blue fans have to enjoy this while it lasts!
What I appreciated most about the news stories in the aftermath of their first win of the season, were the pictures and the videos that showed the camaraderie and unity in the locker room. As they relished in the shocking victory, they were cheering and dancing together. Players and coaches together were bouncing around with enthusiasm and exhilaration. They were excited and having fun. They were celebrating together. They won and it felt so good. After the debacle of a putrid last season, and a decade-long embarrassing swoon, this team is starting to set itself up for success. They are starting to build a winning culture. (I hope!)
As we enter the fall season and begin our churchwide Red Letter Challenge, my hope and prayer is that we will see everyone in our church come together likewise. That we will start dreaming big about how bright our future will be. That we will look to our coach, Jesus Himself, and embrace His mission-minded, winning culture. One of our members recently shared with me the worship numbers from when King of Kings started, when two churches (Parsippany and Boonton) merged together 65 years ago. Can you believe they were worshiping close to 275 each Sunday? Wow! How awesome is that! But these “glory days” are not just behind us, they can be our future as well. Much like any football team, you need everyone to be present and everyone to buy in. It is time to be excited about getting together. It is time to be a church that is proud of who we are and what we believe. It is time for us to start singing and dancing in the locker room. To be a place where people are excited to come be a part of it, where we are proud to invite others to join us!
“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play together is another story.” (Casey Stengel)
“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1)
There is a common misnomer out there, that for a church to be healthy, it has to be huge. If a church is bigger, it must be better. This pitfall is one I often struggle with as a pastor, comparing the numbers and ministries of one church to another. I do it here. I did it in the Midwest. Bigger is better. The larger the church, the better the pastor. The more ministry "programs" they provide, the more impressive they are. Consequently, the smaller the church, the lazier and more incapable the pastor must be. Making use of this faulty logic, a small church must be an unhealthy church. But this is not necessarily the case! Such misguided commentary is a deceptive lie of the devil to destroy and demoralize faithful believers. The size of a church has no direct correlation to the effectiveness of a church. To be sure, a church of any size, that has no desire or plan to grow has lost sight of their mission. They've begun a decline that is inevitable, whether it is evident in the numbers or not. If a church, of any size, abandons the Word of God its days are numbered. If it slips into a self-serving or a survival mode and cares nothing about reaching people in its community, then it has become unhealthy. Numbers do matter of course, especially when they are indicative of Kingdom growth. But just because a church does not draw thousands to weekly worship services and upon a sprawling, college-like campus, does not mean they are unhealthy. This is especially relevant and encouraging news for our church—and for most congregations in the Northeast.
The reality is that most churches in America are not mega-churches. According to a study done in 2018, the average size of an American Christian congregation was 75 people. Four years later, and post-pandemic, I wouldn’t think that number has changed. If anything, it has probably shrunk a little. Over 90% of churches in the US have a total membership of 350 or less. We are not alone. We are not unique. The good news is that we can be both a small church and a healthy church. More importantly, our viability and long-term health is not exclusively tied up in our roster role call. We can be healthy. We can be a mission-driven, difference-making church. During the first next several months, our church leadership is going to wrestle with what it looks like for our church to be a healthy church. Then we are going to fine tune our mission, unique to us here at King of Kings Lutheran Church & Preschool. What is the mission and identity of our church? What is God calling us to do and be in our community? What is our potential in Christ? Please pray for our church leadership as we begin these intentional dialogues; pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten and inspire us. And if you have some thoughts of your own and would like to be involved in the conversation, please reach out. I’d love to get together and talk!
We may be small, in comparison to the nearby Catholic or non-denominational churches around us. But thankfully that doesn’t matter. We are mighty and we'll continue to be faithful!
“It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.” (Mark Twain)
“It's not the size of the dreamer, it's the size of the dream.” (Josh Ryan Evans)
During our final Wednesday evening “I Am a Church Member” conversation, we talked about two great topics. The first was the role we have to unite our own families in love and activity for the church. Yet for today, I will only focus on the second topic—the “gift” of being a church member. Have you ever thought about that before? Whether it be here at King of Kings or other congregations of the past, have you ever considered being a member of a local church as a GIFT—something to be treasured? Too many times, we see participation in the church as just one more thing to do, one more organization to be a part of. Far too many nominal believers are at content by keeping their name on a church membership role, thinking that by doing this, they do right by God and appease their conscience. They rarely show up. They seldom volunteer. Investment in the congregation is not something they have interest in or make time for. God wants more for us than that! There is something unique and special about what takes place within the walls of a church’s sanctuary. After all, the church is really the only place where the scriptures are extended and God’s grace is personally given. It is the only place where the teachings and sacrificial work of Jesus predominate all other things. Throughout the Bible, we see verse after verse that speaks of the gift of salvation, the gift of Christ’s work for us, and the truth that we cannot earn salvation or peace on our own. And finally, the gift of becoming a part of the body of Christ… the church. The message you hear from the pews within a church is not like anything else you’ll hear on TV or radio. The church is where God unequivocally and uniquely delivers these Gospel gifts to you.
Church membership is a gift. A gift must be treasured. It should not be taken for granted or considered lightly. Because it is a gift, we live a thankful life for it. We celebrate it. We embrace it. We use it. How? We do this, not by sending thank you notes, but by living and engaging in the life of the congregation, and by sharing the joy of this gift with others. As we are a week away from the official “back-to-school” start of fall, it is my hope that you will come back to church and celebrate the gift of our church together!
“Church participation is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” (Dwight L. Moody)
“A church that looks and sounds just like the world, has nothing to offer the world.” (John MacArthur)
Last Wednesday night, part of our “I Am a Church Member” conversation focused on the potentially divisive nature of personal preferences or desires. Do you remember the last time your children or grandchildren were caught in a tussle, fighting over who would get their way? We have all seen toddlers throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want, kicking and screaming on the floor. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen within the church; although sometimes it may come close. 😉 Sadly, over the years, many churches have split in two over arguments such as the color of carpet to use in the narthex or the placement of the baptismal font inside the sanctuary.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with preferring one style of worship over another. There is nothing sinful about having a personal fondness for one hymn over another. But as members of a church (local church and God's greater church), our motivation should never be about getting our way. In this community, we shed the selfish desires of the “me first” monster that lives within us. Instead, we look for ways to be a servant to others. The Apostle Paul sets before us the example of this attitude displayed profoundly by Jesus, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Become a servant for the sake of, for the good of the whole. Put others first. Jesus empties Himself, to the point of death, to serve you and me. Such humble sacrifice is not easy; the cross is clear evidence of this unavoidable truth. But such is the call and expectations that God has for His followers. Did you know the word servant occurs 57 times in the New Testament? Did you know the verb serve occurs 58 times in the New Testament? What are we to learn from this? Quite simply, serving is important! And if we are too busy making sure our needs are met and our own desires satisfied, then this often comes at the expense of those around us. If we are so turned inward, it is impossible to see the needs of those around us and serve them.
In the last days of August, we often try to squeeze in one more trip to the beach or one last venture to the mountains. As we savor the final stretch of this summer, think about ways you and your family can give and serve. How can you put others first? Reach out to a lonely neighbor. Volunteer at a local food pantry. Offer to babysit free of charge. Invite some friends going through a tough time over for dinner. Inside the walls of our church should be people that are actively on the lookout for ways to serve—doing as Jesus did. Let us all look for ways to bring a smile to the faces of those around us and be a blessing to others.
“Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God.” (Rick Warren)
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10 NLT)
Last Wednesday night, in our book study on "I Am a Church Member" by Thom Rainer, we started talking about what it means to be an engaged and functioning church member. We started our study here in an effort to consider how our church can be healthier and how we might make more of a difference in the community. It was a great conversation, and for many it provided a shift in our thinking. Too often, people view the church as yet one more club to join, one more organization to be a part of, one more joyless thing to do. Sadly, the great American sin of entitlement has crept in and infiltrated the church. It has cheapened what it means to be part of the church. We no longer view church membership as an honor or joy. No doubt this grieves the heart of God. At an alarming rate, churches are in decline. Fringe and casual church goers are slipping further away from active engagement. Too many people view church membership as simply having a name on a roster; and sadly this is enough to appease their conscience. More and more people think, “If the church doesn’t meet my need or tell me what I want to hear, than I’m not going to waste my time.” The general premise of the author is that far too many people see the church from the lens of a “you exist to serve me” organization. They ask questions like… what are the perks? What is benefit? What is the church going to do for me? How will it entertain me?
God did not give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks. Yes, of course, the primary purpose of the church is to put us in the Gospel Reception spot. It is where God delivers, unequivocally and clearly, His grace through the Word and sacraments. But, the second and nearly as important purpose of the church, is to activate His people. Our Sunday more gatherings serve as our base of operations, where our Mighty King preps and equips us before He pushes us out into the world to bring Jesus where we live, work, and play. God has placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give. A Biblical understanding of the church is to see that we exist for the good of others, not the other way around! The beautiful picture of the Church outlined by scripture, is that the we are created to proclaim the truths of God and eagerly look for ways to care for and serve others. The church is a place of doing; it is where each one of us, uniquely designed and equipped, uses our God-given talents and abilities in service to Him and the growth of His Kingdom.
As we gear up for the fall, I do hope to see you all back in church. And with the return of our membership, I pray we find a renewed desire to make King of Kings a welcoming place of inspiration and community. I hope that we’ll ask our families to come with us. I hope that we will invite old friends and new neighbors to join us. I hope and pray that we will see new families and faces from our preschool or community in our pews. Our church is healthier and better when all our people are together—growing and learning, praying and playing. After all, the church is God’s only plan to reach the world!
This past Monday night we received an email… “Congratulations! After a successful tryout, your daughter has made the traveling softball team…” Yay!
When was the last time you received something similar? A college acceptance letter. An approval to a nearby country club. A casting email from the school theatre director. A winning letter from Publishers Clearing House.
Good news like these things are rightly to be celebrated. It is an awesome feeling to make the team. To belong to something. To be part of a group or a squad. It is a wonderful thing indeed to know you’re not alone, to know that you have others who are cheering for you and fighting with you. To have peers to share in the challenges and in the victories. To be a small, yet essential, part of a larger community.
The Church is no different. It is here, surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, where God invites us into a community where love and forgiveness abound. And thankfully there are no essays to write, no tryouts to be held. In and through Jesus, the invitation is free and open to us all. To be a church member puts us in a place where God immediately delivers the Gospel and directs our lives. To be a church member carries far more eternal benefits than to be accepted into an exclusive, worldly social club. To be a church member is to put ourselves in a position to be used by God—individually and together—in service to the world for the sake of His Gospel. Sure, the church is not perfect. Our church is not perfect. After all, we are a place filled with broken and sinful people—chief among them though I be! However, this is a community that should bring us great joy to be a part of. As part of the church, we are a prized and chosen people to God. As part of this church, we are His primary (and only) plan to reach the community in which our church was planted 65 years ago.
I recently read a story about a 100-year-old man who was celebrating his birthday at the church where he had attended since he was a boy. His family threw a big party for him with cake, ice cream, and lots of birthday cards. Then his great-grandson walked up to the microphone to say a few words. Turning to his grandfather he said, “Great-Grandpa, we know you can barely hear or see, but tell us, why do you still go to church every Sunday?” The man replied, “Because I love Jesus with all my heart, and He commanded me to be here.” Then he paused for a moment and added, “And I just want to show everybody whose side I’m on.”
Does your family know whose side you’re on? What about your friends and neighbors? It is a wonderful gift to be a church member, part of the bride of Christ and a recipient of His many grace-filled, righteousness-giving promises. We get to be a part of His church, part of His team. This is something to rejoice about. We celebrate because it is where we hear the Word of God. It is where we worship the Lord. It is where we receive untold spiritual benefits. It is where we encounter God.
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” (Dwight L. Moody)
“A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this--not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit.” (Alistair Begg)
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