If your helmet comes off during the play, you have to come out of the game for 1 play. That’s the rule, at least in college football.
If you want to vote in this year’s General Election, you must be registered and bring proper identification to the polling place. That’s the law.
The National Ensign, otherwise known as the American Flag, is hoisted briskly at 0800 daily and is lowered slowly each evening at sunset. Those are the regulations in the U.S. Naval Service.
Jesus taught us how to pray. He said here is a model. Our Father, who art in heaven…
Rules and regulations, laws and models, specifications and sacred methods all have their place. Sometimes it seems that we couldn’t do without rules and regulations. Sometimes they seem to strangle us.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Should we consider one day of greater significance than another?
Are not all God-made?
Is not each sunrise a mighty act of God?
Should we not be in awe every day when we consider the mighty works of God?
God gave us a model. Create for six days, and then rest one day.
God gave us a command. Six days you will go to work, then take a day just to rest and worship God. Make that day holy.
If it’s a command, then there is no discretion, right?
Then Jesus went out and healed on the Sabbath.
His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath.
He told a man who was paralyzed but was healed, to pick up his matt and walk. That’s telling a man to do more work than he is allowed to do on the Sabbath.
The Jewish leaders confronted Jesus.
He answered, “My Father is working through the Sabbath, so am I.”
Isn’t this the same Father who said, work six and rest one?
Jesus said that He was Lord even of the Sabbath.
This didn’t sit well with the religious leaders of the time. There were rules and rule keepers and the rule keepers insisted that people keep the rules. Rule keepers that don’t keep people keeping the rules don’t keep their jobs.
And Jesus was breaking the rules. How could he be from God if he wouldn’t even submit to the law governing the Sabbath?
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”
It ought to be on Saturday. We should work Sunday through Friday and then have our Sabbath on Saturday. That’s the Sabbath that Jesus kept or broke or was Lord over, right?
Yes, it should be on Saturday. That is, unless it is on Sunday.
For whatever reason—perhaps rising from the dead on the third day and that day being Sunday had something to do with it—most Christians set aside the first day of the weeks as special. Sunday is most often the day set aside for corporate worship, meeting together, study, doing good works, and other activities leading to renewal.
Proper observance of the Lord’s Day enriches the quality of life for all other days.
There is just something special about setting apart one day as holy.
There is just something powerful in real rest.
There is something renewing in reading and listening to God’s word.
There is energy that flows from the gathering of God’s people.
Who has experienced dragging into the church building on Sunday morning or maybe on Wednesday night wondering if before you took the next step, you might just collapse from exhaustion?
Two hours later you are filled again and that’s without scoring a nap during the sermon.
The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. It is to be a holy day—set aside for the Lord—but we are the beneficiaries of this special day.
If God could take a day at the end of six days of creating and look over everything he had made, reflect, and say, “That’s really good;” we would do well to do the same.
We should look and marvel at the creation itself and tell God, “Wow! That’s really good.”
We should consider our week and look at the glory we brought to God by our good deeds and say, “Yes, that was a good week.” Then we put that week in the books, retire it, sometimes capture a lesson or two from it, and then we rest from it.
We don’t dive immediately into the next week.
We rest. We give thanks to God. We renew ourselves with his word. We lift praises to him in song and verse.
But there will be a time that we work on the Sabbath. There will be a time that we work on the Lord’s Day.
I’m not talking about a work schedule that seldom includes Sundays. I am talking about having Sunday free but working any way. Jesus said his Father was always at work. Sometimes, we are also called to good works on the Lord’s Day. This is not work so we get ahead. This isn’t work for more money. This is picking up your mat and walking because Jesus has done a mighty work in you and you are compelled to love your neighbor. Because of what God has done in our lives we are called to testify in word and in deed.
Maybe that means go mow his grass.
Maybe that means to watch her kids for an afternoon so she can get some much needed rest.
Maybe that means to get under the hood of the car than hasn’t moved for two months so the family down the street can finally go to the store.
Maybe it is to fix and replace the lights on your neighbor’s front porch.
It is something that would draw a penalty flag from the officials two millennia ago, but that will renew your spirit today.
It seems that there will always be rules and regulations and guidelines and parameters and boundaries that the world wants to place upon your life. Sometimes it seems as if God wants you playing by these rules; but what we really find in today’s church is that the Sabbath enables us.
We draw closer to God.
We come and worship with his people.
He fills us with his Spirit and energy and love.
We experience a holy day.
We rest and become rested.
We study and become equipped for every good work.
We enjoy the energy and encouragement of others, and so too encourage them.
Whatever we give, more is given in return.
Whatever we give up on the Sabbath is replenished.
The Sabbath was made for man. It was made for humankind.
It seems like even when God is resting, he is still working for us. He created the Sabbath for us.
God rested from his work on the seventh day and modeled a Sabbath for us, but he did not model a day to be worshiped, or dreaded, or that loomed over the end of the week as a “gotta do.”
The Sabbath—the Lord’s Day—liberates us from our labors.
The Lord’s Day is a day to stop and not only smell the roses, but to see them and touch them, and the tulips and daffodils and the lilies of the field too. It is a day to smell the salt spray of the ocean. It is a day to experience cut alfalfa after a rain. It is a day to gather for a meal with the family of faith. It is a day to profess our faith before others and testify to the mighty acts of God in our lives.
It is a day to shout Hallelujah and clap our hands.
It is a day to partake of sacraments.
It is a day to make offerings.
It is a day to lift our voices.
It is a day that the Lord has made and so it is one to rejoice in and be glad in and celebrate in and spend with God.
The kids drive us crazy when they ask, “Are we there yet?” We adults are not much better. We are always on the way to the next place, the next thing, the next job, the next idea, the next anything.
God tells us to set aside one day as special.
Set aside one day as holy.
Set aside one day just to be with him.
Set aside one day to just let his Spirit minister to our soul.
Set aside one day not to convince someone that there is a God and that he is good, but to just witness the creation and let your spirit cry aloud, “God is good!”
Set aside a day not just to read his word but to hear it proclaimed.
Tomorrow is not promised to us, so we give thanks in every day; but we set aside one day each week for thanksgiving and praise.
Set aside one day when God’s people come and pray together, offer their voices in one accord, experience the unity of a body connected in Christ.
Every day is a gift from God, but God wants us to save one day just for him. He wants us to set aside one day and spend it with him. Bring your family. Bring your friends. Bring yourself but not your work. Bring your spirit but not your schedule. Gather with God’s people but not for networking to get ready for next week’s project.
Bring your voice and lift it to him in song and praise.
Bring your offering and give it joyfully.
Bring you burdens and exchange them for a yoke that is easy.
Know the raw essence of God.
Know the energy of God.
Breathe deep and be filled with his Spirit that surrounds us.
Be here completely: body, mind, soul, and spirit to worship God and enjoy him this day.
God wants to know us more fully as we come to know him. We are created to enjoy this very relationship.
We must be here in body, in all our thoughts, in everything that we are, with our spirit united with his Holy Spirit.
Come and worship God in spirit and in truth.
Breathe in his Holy Spirit.
Be with God in person and in spirit and in everything that makes up our very being.
This day is given to us to rest from our labors and know our Creator.
Cumberland Presbyterian Confession of Faith
The Lord’s Day
6.23 The Creator has given one day in seven for special reflection on God’s nature and deeds. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ the seventh day of the week, known as the sabbath, was the Lord’s Day. Subsequent to Christ’s resurrection, Christians celebrate the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day.
6.24 Appropriate activities on the Lord’s Day include worship, study, doing good works, and other activities leading to renewal. The proper observance of the Lord’s Day enriches the quality of life for all other days.