Last week I talked about why the Sabbath is important. See the full post here. This week I want to address how we can make the Sabbath a priority in our lives by using an example.
I have some friends at an organization called Teen Challenge International. This organization, founded by David Wilkerson, exists to provide youth, adults and families with a Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems. My dad graduated the program in Louisiana and I also know some leaders at our local Teen Challenge. What an amazing, Christ-honoring bunch of men and women they are. I believe one of the major problems this program solves, and one of the reasons it is so wildly successful, is that they honor the Sabbath.
The program is a year long – a year of 24/7 Bible reading, Bible classes, Christian counseling, church attendance, reflection, meditation, worship, prayer, fasting, and other Jesus-soaked activities. Participants are pulled from their normal activities and become completely saturated with the Gospel. Incredibly to some, though I’m sure not so to God, Teen Challenge has one of the best success rates of any rehabilitation program anywhere. This is a promise of the LORD spoken through the prophet Isaiah about what he will do if we honor the Sabbath:
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the LORD
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
We shall take delight in the LORD again, if we had lost sight of it. Or if we have never seen the beauty of Christ, we will see it. He will feed us with the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ (John 6:35). These are rich and desirable promises, among many throughout scripture. So, here are four extremely practical suggestions to make honoring the Sabbath a priority in your life:
1. Have a Sabbath everyday. If you have a time set aside for God, that is a holy time. I mean that literally (holy means “set apart for a purpose”) and even more literally (the Holy Spirit will meet you there). If you don’t have a time set aside, start with just 5 minutes, but purpose to have a time to delight in God everyday. Use that time to read, pray, meditate, reflect on what God has done for you. Seriously, this could be my only bullet point, it’s that important.
2. Sleep. God programmed into our bodies a phenomenon we call “sleepiness.” Remember, the Sabbath was made for man – God knows what we need. Physical rest is arguably as important as spiritual rest. If you’re not sleeping well, try winding down with a good book, shut off your phone/computer (the backlight causes your body to keep itself alert), or eat a light snack.
3. Go to church! Go every weekend. Gathering with the saints is not something to be lightly neglected (Hebrews 10:24-25). You may feel like you don’t “need” it, or just don’t feel like it, or are feeling condemned because you haven’t been doing #1 on this list – but go to church anyway! Especially if you’re feeling condemned for any reason, because if you go to a church where they proclaim the Gospel every week, you’ll hear that you are no longer under condemnation because of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross! You need to hear it again.
4. Take a vacation. Take a week, or a long weekend, every now and then to TOTALLY unplug from your normal day to day. And make sure on the vacation you don’t just purpose to do nothing. Purpose to at least think about God, your life, your past failures, what you are grateful for, etc. If you want to be even more spiritual about it, call it a “Sabbatical” and bring a journal and Bible with you.
Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul.
Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.
~Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Don’t fall into a trap of isolation. Don’t check out at church. Don’t unplug from all your relationships because you feel discouraged. Check your heart and see if you are sinning in neglecting the LORD’s Sabbath, and then repent and turn your heart again to delight in it! Blessings to you all on this LORD’s day 🙂