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Thoughts on Keeping the Sabbath

Here’s the one thing you need to know about the Jewish Sabbath: it was meant to be a good thing. It was meant to be a gift, a blessing. But it didn’t turn out to be that for a lot of people. In fact, the day that was meant to be the best day of the week…became the worst.

The Sabbath became an evil day in the minds of many Jewish people, because what was meant to be a day to give you rest from your work…gave you no rest from your thoughts…which were often thoughts of condemnation. And that’s because all of this Sabbath keeping became ultimately about salvation – you had to keep the Sabbath if you wanted to please God, if you wanted to have eternal life. Judgmentalism and hypocrisy became the order of the day.

This is not what God intended.

Today there are many Christians who observe Sunday as a Sabbath day. Paul indicated that this was a fine thing to do (Romans 14:5), though he also said that not celebrating it as such was equally good.

Whatever your practice, here are two things to remember:

1. If Sunday (or Saturday!) is your Sabbath, celebrate it as a good day, and not an evil day of judgment on your own conscience and that of others. Rest, and delight in God’s goodness. Studies show that you’ll probably come out ahead for taking a day off each week. It’s the wise thing to do, even if you’re not under a law to do so.

2. And whether you observe a Sabbath or not, recognize that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9)…Whose name is Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law, so that we could truly rest, and that means that those accusations that come to yourself and others should be gone forever.

So put the feet of those condemning thoughts up on the couch…and rest in Him. You may find yourself more refreshed than you have ever been before.

 

For tomorrow, Thursday, July 9th: Luke 7

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Father’s Kind Heart

Silhouette of Father Playing with Child Outside at SunsetI’ll never forget the day. Josh was a toddler having fun inside our little apartment in Mrs. Dickenson’s mansion at 770 W. Westleigh Drive, Lake Forest, Illinois. I was in seminary during these days while Diane cooked Mrs. D’s meals; and in exchange the grand dame provided our food and a little space for us to live rent free. Oh yeah…and cable.

That day my son’s plastic toys were scattered around our tiny little living room, and I noticed that he had begun to step on them, coming down with the full force of his massive (40 lb.?) weight.  Fearing that he might break one, I instructed him not to do that.

And…after clearly hearing my word, he maintained eye contact while simultaneously and slowly lifting up his foot and setting it down on one of the toys, somewhat like a conquering hero might do to the vanquished.

It didn’t take me long to show the defiant little villain what it really meant to be vanquished.

I like to think that neither one of us ever forgot that day – he certainly hasn’t because he’s heard me tell the story a hundred times. And yet there is a point to it all: the truth is that though at first glance, my instruction looked to be detrimental to him. However, in fact I did not aim to take away his joy, but to preserve it. My “command” came from a father’s heart that had his son’s best interests in mind – I wanted him to continue to enjoy his toys, and stepping on them might have destroyed this possibility.

And so it is with our Heavenly Father’s commands to us – they are meant for our good, most clearly illustrated in Jesus’s discussion regarding the Sabbath and his simple word: “The Sabbath was meant for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Now, I don’t believe the Sabbath command continues today, except in the truth that we are called to rest in the gospel (Hebrews 4:9), but the point remains: Jesus was saying that the Sabbath command was for our good. Get this – God aimed to give his people rest – making Saturday the best day of the week. But of course, under the Pharisees, it had become not the best day, but the worst.

But still, the Sabbath command revealed the Father’s heart, and what continues to be the His heart regarding anything He asks of His children – He aims for our good. In fact, you might say He even shapes commands for us.

As in the Sabbath, all of God’s commands are “made for” us…not we for them.

 

Tomorrow, April 15th: Mark 3

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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