Sabbath Keeping –Stay Close

Text: Acts 1:12

Let me give you a little context. The resurrected Lord Jesus has just appeared to his followers at Mount Olivet. He tells them to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit empowers them. This verse then describes the return to the city. It was a “Sabbath day’s journey.” I wasn’t sure how long that was so I looked it up. The law allowed a person to travel 2000 cubits on the Sabbath — less than ½ a mile. Of course most people would be traveling on foot in that day so ½ a mile would have seemed like a longer distance than it does today. Still, the whole idea of limiting travel on the day set aside to “rest in the company of God” is interesting. When I begin to apply this to my own experience of Sabbath, I discover I have to worry more about the way my mind travels than the way my body travels. If we truly want to claim all the benefits of “rest in the company of God”, we probably need to limit the distance we “travel” in a variety of ways. We need to do what we can to “stay close” to God to fully experience the value of Sabbath keeping. Maybe we need to stay away from internet and TV. Maybe we need to put the cell phone away. Maybe we need to return to an old fashioned book — even a Bible we can hold in our hands. Maybe we need to claim a little time on our own. All of these would be ways to limit our distance and also sharpen our focus so that we might truly “rest in the company of God” and — stay close.

Thought for the day: Many things can take my focus away from God.

Prayer: Oh Lord, forgive me for my failure to truly focus upon you in those times I claim as Sabbath. Help me to limit the distance I “travel” away from you when we are together, so that I can claim the full blessing of being in your presence. AMEN

Acts 1:12 Then thy returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SABBATH KEEPING — What’s the motive?

Text: John 19:31-37

There is great irony here. John tells us that the Romans act to protect the solemnity of the Sabbath. The Jews do not want bodies hanging on the cross during the Sabbath so they ask Pilate to break the legs of Jesus and the thieves. Pilate agrees. (Jesus is already dead so his legs are spared.) Here’s the irony. The “Enemy” is protecting the Sabbath. I fear that happens more than we realize. Institutions and individuals regularly act in ways to “protect” the church, the Sabbath, Prayer but their motives are not always so clear. We should always look behind the actions to the motive. Maybe more worrisome is when those inside the church do the same thing. The Sabbath is, for Christians, so much more than a day. It is “rest in the company of God.” Let’s be sure that when that is being protected — it’s for right reason.

Thought for the Day: Sometimes “the enemy” does the right thing for the wrong reason.

Prayer: Oh Lord, help me to examine my motives before I act. AMEN

John 19:31-37

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows[g] that he tells the truth.) 36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Text: John 9:14

This wonderful story about Jesus healing the blind man is one of the most involved and detailed stories in the Gospels. Lots to learn here but we continue with our focus on the Sabbath. There is so much irony here. Once again, the authorities are angry over Jesus healing on the Sabbath. This time they actually force the one healed out of the community of faith. He was blind from birth. Jesus heals him. His simple testimony: I once was blind but now I see. That’s what we hope happens every Sabbath, isn’t it? That’s what we hope happens every time we “rest in the company of God.” We hope that time spent in God’s presence opens our eyes and helps us to see things the way God sees them. Seems to me that spiritual blindness is a recurring malady. I know it is in my life. But Jesus offers healing — again and again. And the best way I know to find that healing is to find Jesus and spend some time resting in the company of God.

Thought for the day: We can find healing in the company of God.

Prayer: Oh Lord, I fear I am “blind”. I want to see. AMEN

John 9:14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SABBATH KEEPING –Helps with Focus

Text: John 7:23

John tells us that there was great confusion and division because of Jesus. Some people in the crowd thought he was a good man; others thought he was deceiving people. And the authorities are still trying to kill him. So— Jesus comes secretly to the Festival of Booths. But the true presence of Jesus can never be hidden for long. Soon he is teaching and once again amazing those who hear. They are upset because he has healed on the Sabbath but Jesus points to the fact that circumcision occurs on the Sabbath. This is to insure that the law of Moses is not broken. God wants people brought into unity with the community and that takes precedence. Well, the way Jesus sees it, God wants people to be whole and thus healing should take precedence too. Jesus seems genuinely surprised that anyone would object. It’s just one more example of how easy it is to lose sight of the forest for the trees. And it makes me think of how that is still happening among believers today. There are churches that are so concerned about their buildings that they will not welcome scout troops to meet there. There are congregations so committed to one way of worshiping that they will not try new things for the sake of those outside the church. There are pastors who are so determined to do things their way that they fail to recognize and use the incredible resources to be found in their laity. Missing the forest for the trees? I wonder if Jesus is still surprised.

Thought for the Day: Focus is critical.

 Prayer: O Lord, please forgive me when I miss the forest because of my own precious trees. I want to be part of what you are doing to make life better for your people and never a hindrance. AMEN

John 7:23

23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SABBATH KEEPING — Clarifying the Majors in Life

Text: John 5:2-18

The first three gospels have their own accounts of how Jesus upset the religious officials by healing (which they considered working) on the Sabbath. Here in John, the same thing happens. This time, Jesus is in Jerusalem. The sick and infirm gather by the Sheep Gate near a pool called Beth-zatha. The waters of the pool are believed to have the power to heal. But here’s the catch. In order to be healed, you have to be the first person to enter the water after it is stirred up by some supernatural force. This is such a cruel teaching. Think about it. Who will be able to get to the waters first — someone who is deathly ill, paralyzed, blind or someone with just a minor injury? Those who need it most simply have no hope of finding healing here. Hence, the man who has been waiting by the side of that pool for 38 year. And then comes Jesus. The man is healed and sent on his way. Jesus tells him to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk. So what’s the problem? Well, carrying his mat is legally considered work. When the authorities see him doing so, they object. Can you believe that? For 38 years, this man has been unable to stand, to walk, to carry his mat. Instead of rejoicing with him in his healing, they criticize his behavior. And when they discover that Jesus is the reason for the healing, they began persecuting him. When Jesus refers to God as his Father — the persecution escalates. Now they want to kill Jesus. Talk about majoring in the minors! Instead of seeing a walking miracle, they see a violation of Sabbath law. Instead of thanking the one who offered the healing, they criticize him. And instead of praising God for the way He was at work through Jesus, they seek to destroy that channel of blessing. It is so easy to get the majors and minors of life confused. For many folks, honoring the Sabbath had become a way of majoring in the minors. That’s too bad because the Sabbath — rest in the company of God — is intended to help us clarify the majors and minors of life. I’m hoping it can do that for me— and for you.

Thought for the Day: Time spent with God helps clarify the minors and the majors of life.

 Prayer: Dear God, forgive me for those times when I confuse the minors and majors of life. Help me to always celebrate your power at work in the world – even in unexpected ways. AMEN

John 5:2-18

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” 18 For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SABBATH KEEPING — Before the Resurrection

Luke 23: 54-56

I’ve already discussed the faithfulness of the women, who observe the Sabbath before going out to the tomb. (Entries for Matthew and Mark) Maybe, there’s something else we can learn from the way all these things occurred. God’s timing is pretty amazing, you know. Have you ever thought about the fact that the Sabbath comes between the crucifixion and the resurrection? Now, given our working definition of Sabbath, we can say that this way. Between crucifixion and resurrection comes “rest in the company of God.” The women and the male followers of Jesus were no doubt reeling from the events of Thursday and Friday. What would they do? What should they do? What could they do? If ever anyone needed Sabbath (rest in the company of God), they did. And, with God’s timing, they got just exactly what they needed. Now here’s what I’m thinking folks. If we are going to move from the crosses in our lives to the empty tombs, we might need the same thing — rest in the company of God. But of course, it’s our choice. Struggling, hurting, frustrated, bewildered, bitter? Maybe it’s time for some rest —- in the company of God. That’s still the best way I know to find our way to the empty tomb and the power of resurrection, on this side of the grave.

Thought for the Day: God’s timing is amazing.

Prayer: Thank you for the gift of Sabbath. Help me to use it well. Amen

Luke 23:54-56

54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sabbath Keeping —Reveals Hypocrisy

Luke 14:1-6

Once again, Jesus is healing, helping, expressing God’s love and compassion — on the Sabbath. It’s hard to believe that others could get upset about such behavior and yet, in the Gospels, they consistently do. But Jesus turns the tables on them. They are soooo concerned about not working on the Sabbath and yet they do not hesitate to do so when one of their animals is in trouble. Jesus points out the hypocrisy of that. Sad isn’t it? Their animals are more important to them than the people around them that are in trouble. I wonder what is so important to me that I’m willing to sacrifice the welfare of others to hold it inviolate. No doubt there is plenty of hypocrisy in my life that Jesus could point to. How about you?

Thought for the day: We all struggle with hypocrisy.

Prayer: Forgive me God when I get my priorities wrong. Help me see my own hypocrisy that I might be free to truly serve others. AMEN

Luke 14:1-6

 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child[c] or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized