The View From 1776
Sunday, June 22, 2008
No Time For God
Everything is better when we obey the Fourth Commandment’s instruction to keep the Lord’s Day holy.
Pastor Steve Treash preached Sunday’s sermon at Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church (North Stamford, Connecticut). We need, he said, to ask ourselves frequently what would we have done differently in the past and what we would do in the near future, were we to know that our death was near at hand.
Our answer ought to be to follow the Fourth Commandment, to make more time for God in our lives.
Poets in earlier generations were on the right track. We should take time to smell the roses, we should leave a place in hectic schedules for our family and friends, and we should enjoy the beauties of nature and thank God for them.
The full text of the Fourth Commandment in Exodus is:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Pastor Treash observed that the word Sabbath means a stop, a cessation of activity, a rest. The word holy means set apart. To keep the Sabbath holy means to set aside time to commune through the Holy Spirit with God; to put our thoughts and emotions right with God.
Keeping the Sabbath holy is more than just going to church, then returning home to watch TV. It’s making the entire Sabbath holy. It’s setting aside time to ask for spiritual guidance to live a life more in keeping with Jesus’s teachings. It’s setting aside time to meditate about ways to demonstrate love, affection, and respect to our family members. It’s being open to Divine inspiration about ways to help others. It’s asking for help from the Holy Spirit to look beyond our selfish, egoistical focus to find ways to serve that glorify God.
Pastor Treash listed three ways to spend time with God to those ends.
First, reflect upon the blessings God has given us.
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
Second, refresh ourselves by enjoying God’s Creation with friends and family. Note that doing this will set a good example for young children.
The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested. (Exodus 31:16-17)
Finally, refocus on our purpose in life, which is not just to work, but to worship God and, in so doing, to transform our lives to become more Christlike.
God wants to restore our ability to see and enjoy the miracle of His Creation and to be thankful for His blessings.