Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Welcome to Day 45 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
The appointed festivals: The Sabbath, The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Offering the Firstfruits, The Festival of Weeks, The Festival of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, The Festival of Tabernacles.
The Sabbath; Leviticus 23:3, “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the LORD.”
The Day of Atonement; Leviticus 23:28-32 “Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves.”
Leviticus 24:15-17, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; 16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
17 Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death.”
Ironic, isn’t it? It was ok to stone someone for their sin, but otherwise if you killed someone, you were to be killed. “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
Psalm 24, a psalm of the greatness of our God. “King of glory, strong and mighty!”
Paul’s journey takes him to Jerusalem… and to being arrested. Yet again, the people are stirred up (the Jews) about his teaching that Jesus was the Christ. Before he left, there was a prophetic word that he would be bound… Paul simply said he was prepared to die for the gospel. Wondering if God was warning him to not go and he ignored it? Acts 21:12, “the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
But was the Lord’s will done? Just wondering…
You have to admire Paul’s determination… No question there. Just wondering about the wisdom (or foolishness) about his execution of his calling. Was that prophetic word he got, v 11, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
The word didn’t say, “Don’t go.” Only what to expect if he did. Perhaps the Lord was simply preparing him for what lay ahead so he would be ready? Perhaps his friends’ reaction to the word was THEY didn’t want him to go… to go through that… perhaps it was THEIR will for him to not go, not God’s will?
Or when Paul stood before the Lord, did God say to him, “What were you thinking?? I told you what was going to happen if you went there.” Now, he didn’t die in Jerusalem… he was beaten many times…
2 Corinthians 11:16-31 Paul gives his resume of hardships he endured. “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, etc, etc, etc…” CLICK HERE to read the entire passage.
I hear people all the time talking about difficulties they are going through for being a Christian. Being asked to take down a bible verse hanging at their desk… being told to not talk about their faith at work, etc…
I understand “persecution.” But none of us has ever come close to what Paul endured for his faith. None of us has endured what Christians all around the world endure today for their faith. None of us fears for our life for being a Christian. We may lose our job, suffer a little public humiliation… I get it pretty often as a pastor. Or simply for being a Christian. (I really try to wear my pastor title very, very lightly.) I just want to be a guy out in the community, out doing good. Known for love and good works. I want to be the go-to guy when someone who doesn’t go to church, or isn’t a believer is going through a tough time and they need someone to talk to, or someone to do their loved one’s funeral.
Remember how the people in Athens responded to Paul? “Some jeered. Some wanted to hear more. Some believed.”
And how does the sabbath apply to my life? I think it’s critical for my life. Been working on this of late. And it’s not easy… there is SO MUCH that always needs to be done… at home and at work. Work is not just at work. How often do we take our day off and “work around the house?”
Keep in mind, God gave SIX days to work. Ok, so a work week is typically five days? That gives one of the two remaining days to catch up around the house. But the seventh day belongs to the Lord… He wants us to rest. It’s over and over and over in the bible. Including Hebrews 4. I am working at “laboring to enter into that rest.” I think it takes work to find rest. It takes determination. It takes a decision to rest.
I have determined there is ALWAYS work to be done. But I am working at taking a sabbath. Not to get out of working… I could work 24/7. (Ask my wife, Bonnie…) But I feel God is calling me to enter into His rest.
The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Jesus gave permission, that the sabbath wasn’t legalistic… he picked heads of grain on the sabbath as they were walking along… that one could pull their ox out of a ditch on the sabbath… who wouldn’t?? He was accused of breaking the sabbath for healing a man! He asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath?”
Yes it is. And sometimes that takes “work.” To help a friend move. To do an outreach. To help your neighbor with their yardwork. It’s lawful to do good on the sabbath.
But if I fill EVERY day off with helping others, is that a good thing? I think it’s a moving target with the principle that we need rest and time with family…
I’m working at it.
Lord help me as a sort all this out. To find that place of rest that you are calling me to. Thank you that it’s your heart for us to rest. To not run ourselves into the ground. Forgive me for the times I have simply ignored this principle.