Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sabbath: Day of Rest and Well Received

When God created the earth and all it's inhabitants (including man), he took 6 days to do so and on the 7th day he rested. Whether you believe these to be literal earth days or not is irrelevant to this entry. The 7th day is what I want to focus on and it's significance in re-charging our spiritual batteries.

Sabbath is defined as a period, often a day, of rest from pain, sorrow, effort or the like (according to Webster's dictionary). The observance of the Sabbath has been from at least the times of ancient Israel when the lawgiver (Moses) declared the keeping of the Sabbath Day to be holy and punishable by strict penalties. The ancient Christian church changed the day of the Sabbath to coincide with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Irrespective of day, the purpose of the Sabbath has never changed. Take a break, re-focus on matters spiritual and give up the day unto the Lord.

So how do modern worshipers of the Lord observe this sacred day? More importantly, how should believers in the true and living God keep it holy? I've been asked this by a good friend with respect to the oncoming pressure of soccer competition and my personal dedication to advancing our kid's opportunities for growth in the sport. My answer is simple, plain and unambiguous. No sports, shopping, entertainment and the like on the Sabbath Day.

It's not just a "thou shalt not" commandment but there are important items of observation that truly make this special day meaningful and fulfilling. In our family, since I serve in our congregation's leadership and am required to attend many meetings on Sunday, we typically spend the morning hours as a family. We sleep a little later (rest is part of the law :), spend time talking together, eat a good breakfast together and typically play some kind of game together. We also spend some time preparing for our worship services. We worship together at church and spend time together after church. Our day is filled in prayer, meditation and escape from the cares of the world. We turn our thoughts and energies to the Lord and He re-charges our spiritual batteries through the Holy Spirit.

If we were to violate His Law by participating in sports and other distractions we would weaken our resolve to worship Him. We are not restricted to worship just once in a week and our family worships daily through prayer and reading His holy word. But there is something empowering in blocking the world on this single day and further worshiping Him.

So for a day like today, a day that was preceded by a fun-filled and extremely exhausting day of soccer, rest is a blessing from above. I receive this as a gift rather than a restriction. My heart is filled with gratitude for this commandment. I think the Lord would have us look as his guidance through command as just that: gifts for better living rather than commands and restrictions in bondage. When we can align our will with His, the receipt of the gift is precious and valued. For today, the gift is truly mine and rest is well received!
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