Keep the Sabbath Holy

Do you remember the Sabbath? Do you know what the Sabbath is? Do you know why God says we are to remember the Sabbath? Do you know what makes the Sabbath special? Will decide to remember the Sabbath?

For some of us, the Sabbath is a foreign word. For others, we may have heard it, but believe it is only a day for the Jews. The Sabbath is an important day to God, whether he know what it is or not. Unfortunately, if we do not know about the Sabbath, we cannot properly follow God’s commands.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week by the calendar. However, it is more than a day of the week. For those of us who are Christian, we have made Sunday rather than Saturday our Sabbath, as a remembrance of Christ rising from the dead.

What is the purpose of the Sabbath? It is to be a day in which rest and focus on God. It is a day for us to recharge. It is a day for us to relieve ourselves of worry, fear, and anxiety. It is a day God set aside. It is to remember that God also rested after six days of creating.

Remembering the Sabbath includes remembering what God has done. It is remembering that he has created each one of us. It is remembering God is in control. It is remembering God has a plan for each of us. It is remembering God has promised us an eternity with him.

When we remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, we obey God. Obeying God pleases him. Keeping the Sabbath holy is edifying to us, it builds us up. We are strengthened in our faith. We honor God and God honors us in return. Keeping the Sabbath holy is much more than merely sitting in a pew for an hour. It is spending the day with God and remembering all he has done for us.

I pray we all remember the Sabbath. I pray we keep the Sabbath holy. I pray each one of us spend time on Sunday with God and focus on him. Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. Spend time with God. Spend time focusing on God. Be relieved of your worries. Go to church on Sunday.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

Owed Debts

What do you owe? Have you thought about what you owe to others? Have you thought about who you owe?  Do you pay what you owe? Have you considered that owing someone is not always financial?

I see a horrific trend in our culture today. Many, if not most, seem to think they are owed rather than they owe. There are people who always demand attention. There are people who track every penny owed them but fail to repay their own debts. There are people who demand respect but give none.

The Apostle Paul tells the Roman church they should pay all debts. He calls out both financial and personal debts. Financial debts are much easier to track. They are quantified through loan balances, invoices, tax statements, or cash register totals. Many of our financial transactions are agreed upon. We sign the loan contract. We agree to have someone perform work for us. We choose to buy products.

It is the personal debts that are more difficult to quantify. Some are relatively easy. There are people who are voted into office, promoted to managerial positions, or appointed to leadership positions. Even if we do not like them, we are to give them the respect and honor their position warrants.

But what about people in our everyday lives? We should treat all people respect. I’ve heard it said more times than I can count. Yet I continue to see people being disrespectful, yelling at one another rather than having a respectful conversation. I see people become upset about what was served for dinner rather than being thankful for the dinner that was provided. I’ve seen people accuse others of something without first asking respectful questions. If we will treat everyone with respect, we will be respected. Respect cannot be demanded.

I pray we all evaluate our debts. I pray we pay those to whom we owe debts. I pray each one of us pays special attention to our paying the debt of respect and honor to others. Pay your financial debts. Pay your personal debts. Treat everyone with respect. Give honor to those who have earned it. Honor God in all your actions.

Romans 13:8 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Accepting Rest

Does your soul seek rest? Have you found it? Are you looking in the right place? Have you heard the correct message? Have you put your faith in the One who can grant you the rest you seek? Will you commit to Jesus?

Whether we realize it or not, our souls seek rest. We desire calm and peace. We want to know that everything will work out. We long for confidence the future is guaranteed to fall in our favor. The confidence we desire is available to us.

We have been promised the rest we desire. God has promised rest to those who would follow him before Jesus came. Jesus promised rest to those who follow Him. God does not go back on his promises. It still stands. It is still available to every one of us who will accept the promise.

If there is any who have not heard the promise, they should hear the message. If a person has not believed it before, they should believe it now. For many, it is not a bolt of lightning nor a single moment in which their belief and faith occur. No, their faith grows over time as they learn more about God, learn more about Jesus, and experience God in their lives.

Faith is a wonderful thing. It brings rest to our souls through trust in God. God grants us rest as we believe in him. If we do not have the rest God has promised, it is due to our desire to be in control and hold on to our own independence rather than leaning on and trusting God.

If we have heard the good news, it is time we put our faith in Jesus. It is when our faith is put in Him that we find the rest our souls desperately seek. Jesus longs to relieve us of our worry. He longs to relieve us of the burden we carry. He longs to give us rest.

I pray we all believe the good news we have heard. I pray we put our faith in Jesus Christ. I pray each one of us will accept the peace and rest God is so willing to grant us. Believe in Jesus. Put your faith in Jesus. Ask God for the rest you seek. Trust God to grant you rest.

Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

Quietly Rest

Do you have a quiet place you can go to when you need rest? Is there a place where you can block out all the noise of the world? Are you still seeking a quiet place in which to find rest? Have you even attempted to rest your soul in solitude?

We live in a hustle and bustle world. True rest is seldom found. Sure, we may sleep for six or seven or even eight hours, but we do not truly rest. We may sit down for a few hours in the evening, but we are watching television rather than resting. We have lost the importance of rest.

Our vacations are filled with activity. Oh, we may be away from our jobs, but we are no less busy. We bounce from one activity to another. True, we may see things we have never seen, and they may be very enjoyable. And, yes, they may even bring some small bit of rest to our minds. Yet, our minds still go back to the tasks of work that are stacking up for our return.

Just the other day, we were discussing with an employee the many things they do for the church. One point made was that this person needed to take time off, get away, enjoy a few days doing what they liked. Recharge their battery. Good advice. But we cannot fully recharge without the rest that only comes when we spend quiet time with God.

In today’s passage, the apostles have returned from a busy assignment. Jesus knows they have put in a lot of work and need to recharge. He tells them to come with Him to a quiet place to get some rest. We need that quiet place as well.

Some of us are afraid of the quiet. So much so that if it is quiet for more than a couple moments, we feel compelled to say something. Sitting in quiet is unnerving for some. Yet, when we convince ourselves to be quiet, to sit in quiet, to focus on God, we can truly recharge. Doing so will surprise us more than a beautiful sunset. We will desire to do it again and again.

I pray we all discover a quiet place where we can rest. I pray we seek quiet time with God. I pray each one of us will go to our quiet place, spend time with Jesus, and be surprisingly recharged. Find your quiet place. Spend time with God. Spend time with Jesus. Get some rest. Be recharged.

Mark 6:30-31 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Commandment With A Promise

What does honor mean to you? Do you honor others? Do you only honor those who are in high-ranking positions? Does someone need to do something special for you to honor them? Do you honor your parents?

To honor someone else is to treat them with high respect. It does not mean we falsely put them on a pedestal, but we do give them a high level of respect for who they are. Some may say we should honor everyone. We should certainly treat everyone with respect.

Honor also means holding someone in high esteem. In other words, even though we do not put them on a pedestal, we grant them higher respect than everyone else. We put more credence in their advice than others. We listen patiently, even if we have heard the story multiple times.

If we take a few moments to look at the ten commandments, honoring our parents is the only commandment that comes with a promise. That is just how important honoring our parents is to God. Holding our parents in high esteem, treating them with high respect does not mean we must always agree with them. It does mean we do speak to them in respectful tones. When we disagree, we speak calmly and rationally. We do not raise our voice to our parents.

Notice the promise is so that it will go well with us. If we want to live a life of joy, we are to honor our parents. We may still hit rough patches, but we do not have that nagging guilt of disrespecting our parents. We might say that by treating everyone with respect our lives increase in joy and are less stressful.

I pray we all honor our parents. I pray we view them with high esteem. I pray we treat our parents with a high level of respect and find that we have more enjoyment in life. Honor your parents. Treat them with respect. Hold them in high esteem. Reap the reward. Obey God.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Regular Rest

Do you take time to rest? Do you allow yourself to relax and recuperate from a busy week? Do you purposely set aside time for rest or is it a catch as catch can situation? Do you know your body, mind, and soul need rest?

Some people seem to never rest. They are always busy doing something. They may hold down two or three jobs. We often call them workaholics. There are some who are always on the go, not necessarily working but searching to be entertained. Both need rest.

God instructed us to set aside time for regular rest thousands of years ago. He knows what science has recently discovered…we need rest. It is not simply physical rest we need. Science has conducted studies that tell us we should get at least seven hours of sleep per night for good physical health. But that is only one area in which we need rest.

Our minds need rest, too. Resting our minds becomes more challenging. Sometimes rest for the mind can come through entertainment. Sometimes it can come through quiet time. It may come from reading a book. Rest for the mind allows us to release the stress of our jobs and other worries.

Rest for our souls is related to both physical and mind but include another key component. To find rest for our souls we must spend time with God. We may find rest for our souls in worship service. However, a more complete rest is found when we are in quiet contemplation, seeking God’s peace and his will for our lives.

Regular rest in all three areas promote good health. With proper rest, we are physically able to complete our work, we are able to focus properly on our tasks, and we have a peace that is beyond understanding. We become a complete person, just as God designed us to be.

I pray we all get the rest we need. I pray we set aside times for physical and mental rest. I pray each one of us seeks quiet times with God to acquire the peace our soul’s desire. Set aside time to rest. Rest physically. Rest mentally. Seek rest for your soul. Spend quiet time with God. Give your worries to God. Accept his peace.

Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”

Who’s Number 1?

Who is number one in your life? Who is it you hold above all others? Are you serving other gods? Do you set other priorities above God? Have you considered the importance of making God number one?

Despite what we may think, we often do not make God our number one priority. We put our jobs ahead of him. We put our families ahead of him. We may even be serving other gods rather than him.

No, we do not want to admit it. But if we stop, think, and are honest with ourselves, we all do it. If we are truly making an effort to put God first, we likely do not put him in the backseat often. Yet, there is no escaping there are times we will.

We call some of those other gods our houses, vehicles, clothing, vacations, spouse, children, parents, jobs, money, possessions, and more. Any or all of these may be taking the top spot in our lives at various times.

Lest we fool ourselves, God is a jealous God. When we do not put him first, he is not going to respond well to us. That doesn’t mean he will leave us destitute. It does mean we will not live the abundant life he has planned for us.

We cannot live out his promises if we do not make him our top priority. We cannot fully experience his love for us if we do not love him with our whole heart. We cannot carry out his will for our lives if we are unwilling to spend time with him to discern his will. This includes corporate worship in his church.

I pray we commit to making God our number one priority. I pray we love him as he loves us. I pray each one of us will seek to know him better so we can carry out his will for our lives. Make God number one. Put God first. Spend time with God. Discern his will for you. Join others in worship.

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Inside Out

Do you worry about presenting a good image to others? Do you work to make yourself look good when interacting with others? Do you dress yourself up, put on a smile, and change your language? Are you full of turmoil, anxiety, and fear on the inside?

Our culture has become a culture of image. We spend money, time, and effort making ourselves look good. It is all about appearances. We strive to look like those we see on television. We have become fake.

Please do not misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with dressing appropriately. However, when we neglect what is on the inside, we have neglected what is most important. There is only one way to clean ourselves from the inside out—following Jesus.

Jesus chastises the leaders of Israel in today’s passage for doing what our culture does. They spent more time and energy in trying to make themselves look good than they did trying to follow God. Jesus continues in the next few verses by calling them “whitewashed tombs.” They were dead on the inside while presenting an image of being righteous.

God is concerned about our hearts, minds, and souls. He desires us to be concerned about them as well. This is key to remember—when our hearts, minds, and souls are clean, we radiate a goodness that far exceeds the way we dress. Ugliness or beauty both come from the same place—hearts, minds, and souls. They are displayed in our attitudes and behaviors. We can mask them with clothing, but they always shine through. If we want to be beautiful people, we need to start with the inside, cleaning it out and filling ourselves with Jesus.

I pray we all seek to clean ourselves from the inside out. I pray we follow Jesus. I pray each one of us asks God to help us clean our hearts, minds, and souls of turmoil, anxiety, and fear. Clean up the inside. Be beautiful on the inside. Show your beauty in your attitude and behavior. Follow Jesus. Ask God to help.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Oaths, Vows, and Promises

Have you ever taken an oath? Have you had to promise to carry out a mission? Have you sworn to testify or to keep a secret? Have you been able to live up to the oath? Have you thought you should not have sworn an oath afterward?

We make promises and swear oaths for a variety of reasons. We are sworn in to the military and political offices. We are sworn to tell the truth when we testify in court. We make promises to do something at work, with our families, and even to ourselves.

Jesus warns us not to make an oath. He says we are not to swear by anyone or anything. Why? He knows just how fickle we are. He knows we want to do many things but often lack the will, ability, or resources to do them. He knows we will fail as often or more than we succeed.

This is not to say we should refuse to tell the truth in a court of law. We should abide by the laws of the land. It is not to say that we refuse to take an oath when joining the military or taking a political office. Those are required by our customs to serve.

The bigger issue is the voluntary oaths and promises. Take a few moments to think about the promises you have made and failed to keep. Think about the oaths or vows you have spoken and have been unable to see through to the end. We all have them. Some of them we prefer to forget. Others bring up feelings of regret. Jesus tells us not to make them to avoid feeling guilty when we fail. We would be wise to listen to His guidance.

I pray we all think carefully before making an oath, promise, or vow. I pray we forgo swearing to do something whenever possible. I pray each one of us seek to be a person of our word rather than needing to swear by someone or something larger than us. Do not voluntarily swear an oath. Stop making promises. Be extremely careful making vows. Be a person who can be trusted. Be a person of your word. Be trustworthy.

Matthew 5:33-35 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.”