Thursday, May 29, 2008

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37b)
Feeling a bit parched? Searching to quench that thirst with an iced tea or Diet Coke? Dive into the Word for real refreshment!I try to be diligent in my Bible reading and am often rewarded by God's speaking to my heart through particular scriptures. I pause and sometimes even write them down. The reflection usually ends there, however. This year, I would like to pursue the verses that God lays on my heart by pondering how He wants me to apply these verses in my life.
Here is what spoke to me this week:
In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they sold food.
Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem.
Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, "What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day?
Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath?"
Nehemiah 13:15-18
This week at the playground, I ran into a mother in the local homeschool group in which I'm beginning to make friends. This lady is one of those rare people who just radiate Christ. I knew from our first meetings that the Lord had placed her in my life for a reason. This post is about one of them.
We were talking about summer activities and the scheduling craziness of children's sports. She said that one main reason her husband is coaching is so that he can schedule practices so that all the traveling to and from the fields is not so onerous and so that they can avoid practicing on Sundays. She was lamenting the fact that so many activities are on the sabbath.
She went on to state that her daughter's state championship for gymnastics was on a Sunday, and she and her husband had to sit down and talk with her and explain why she couldn't compete. She said that it was really hard, especially when the girl who won one of the events was a teammate whom my friend's daughter had consistently beaten throughout the season. She said that it was tough, especially considering that her daughter could have been a state champion, but that it was a great lesson for her whole family.
This conversation has really given me pause. In her place, I would have found it so easy to rationalize that God's law from the Old Testament didn't really apply to us in this day and age. All the tears and disappointment would be ample incentive to allow Sunday participation in something which was worked hard for all season.
In fact, we just made a major purchase a Sunday or two ago. After all, didn't Jesus do work on the Sabbath? Somehow, though, I don't think that buying a new computer on Sunday and healing someone on Sunday is really comparing apples to apples!
Last night the Holy Spirit continued to convict me on this subject when I came across the above verses from Nehemiah in my scheduled Bible reading. Not only was Nehemiah condemning the Jewish people for working on the Sabbath, he was condemning foreigners who were selling on the Sabbath. Why would he be concerned about what foreigners were doing on a day holy to the Hebrews? Well, who would be buying their wares? On a day holy to God, the Hebrews would be concerned with obtaining material things, allowing consumerism to crowd God out of the picture, even on the day set aside for His worship. Hmmm. That sentence hit a little too close to home!
I remember as a child that there were few stores open on Sunday. Now it is so convenient, especially with things as busy as they are during the week, to leave shopping for Sundays. It's a little too convenient and not a change for the better!
What is the purpose of keeping the Sabbath? Is it just a legalistic hoop through which to jump to prove our devotion to the Lord? Not according to Jesus. He said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 3:1).
In his sermon "On the Sabbath," John Wesley states, "one reason why they were [to] keep his sabbaths was that they might be holy as God is holy; that by constantly dedicating to him one day in seven they might be enabled to spend the other six as became those who acknowledged their Creator and Sanctifier, to be of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; that they might ever be mindful of taking him for their pattern, not only in one particular, but in the general course of their lives, which after his example should be holy, just, and good." Wesley makes the point that setting apart one day of the week to focus on God refocuses our attention on how we should live the rest of the week.
Although around this house we tend to be "busy at home," I think that one day of the week will begin to be a little less busy!
"If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth . . . ."
(Isaiah 58:13-14b)
So, what verses have spoken to you this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.


Jamie - RoseCottage said...

Thanks for the great post. It's a hard balancing act sometimes to figure out how much of the old testament applies to today. On one hand, we know everything changed when Christ came: no more sacrifices and all that. On the other hand, it's still the word of God and he wrote it for a reason.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Your post has got me analyzing my priorities on the Sabbath. I think it is good to try to do as little as possible. God knew that we needed a day of refreshing and rest. Sometimes I struggle with Sundays because it's one of the busiest days of the week with church responsibities. My DH jokingly says that we should observe Saturday as Sabbath because we stay busy all day with church on Sunday!
I shared some scriptures and thoughts this week. Whew, this always takes alot out of me. I have so much to say and I edit my post continually and then in the end I wonder if my readers actually get what I am trying to express?? oh well, God knows my heart! Right? ;')

Sandra said...

Thanks for the insight Celly. I tend to gripe on Sunday mornings, when it seems so much work just to get the kids dressed and out the door to get to church, that it's supposed to be a day of rest because it's all but restful getting the troops to church. It's all worth it once we're there but I like the perspective you give in your post. It's really a day set aside to focus on God for supplication for the rest of the week.

Anonymous said...

A couple years ago we lived in a small town in Germany, and all the stores were closed on Sundays. We got used to doing our shopping during the week, and although it seemed incovenient at times, I think we got a taste of the Sabbath rest God intended. Obeying Him is hard to do sometimes, but it is just so good for us!

Jenn said...

Thanks for the wonderful reminder on why we should keep the sabbath holy. I am convicted. It has some how become common place for me to catch up on my house work on Sunday. I will be resting this Sunday. I could use it!

boutcrazy said...

I am so in awe of the many women I am finding longing to grow deeper in God's word. Thank you for letting me join your group. I agree with Katherine that Sunday is the busiest time of the week if you hold any type of leadership in the church. I'm drained by the time I get to the worship service. All my family doesn't see Sunday as a day of rest, its the only day left to do anything for themselves. But isn't that what we usually give God - what we have left. Thank you for sharing this story. Makes me pause when considering going out to dinner on Sunday's with my family...because of my desire to be with them, I'm causing others to be at work.