Preparation Day; The Other Forgotten Day

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday evenings always bring fond memories of Sabbaths at home when I was a kid. We always had our Friday rituals even though they changed from time to time. We would play family games, or go on drives when I was little. Later, I remember we would get all the chores and baths done and groceries bought for the week and then would get a Godfather’s pizza and bring it home to enjoy with the family as the sun went down. In the Summer we could get in an episode of Benson before the Sabbath began. Tulsa Adventist Academy, the school I attended let out early on Fridays so we could go home and prepare for the Sabbath. This was in accordance with the counsel we had been given from the Spirit of Prophecy.

“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment.   

 

     We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Whenever it is possible, employers should give their  workers the hours from Friday noon until the beginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord’s day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things.

 

     There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. In a humble spirit, “confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” James 5:16. 

 

     Before the Sabbath begins, the mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business. God has set His Sabbath at the end of the six working days, that men may stop and consider what they have gained during the week in preparation for the pure kingdom which admits no transgressor. We should each Sabbath reckon with our souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss.”  {6 Vol. Testimonies to the Church, P. 356.} 

 

Later in life I decided that not all of this counsel was practical. Back in the day this was written baths were a lot of work, hauling in water and all. Today you can take a shower just at the turn of the knob, which to me could easily be done on the Sabbath without causing too much work. Cooking on the Sabbath does not require so much work either I thought. While that may be a justifiable argument, the fact is, that if we do not make a big deal out of preparing for the Sabbath then the Sabbath will not be a big deal either. While it may not take as much effort to prepare for the Sabbath nowadays, I think we lose some of the specialness of the day by not preparing more. We rob ourselves of a special blessing when we forget the other forgotten day besides the Sabbath, which is the preparation day.

“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time. Whenever it is possible, employers should give their  workers the hours from Friday noon until the beginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord’s day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things.”  {6 Vol. Testimonies to the Church, P. 356.} 

 

I remember Sabbath evenings before the sun went down Saturday night, my family would have worship as we closed the Sabbath. My mind would wander from the Bible reading to the Tulsa Roughnecks soccer game that we would be going to as soon as the sun went down. Since all secular things had been put away for the day, I was excited to get to the game. Looking back I think it made both the Sabbath and the game more special. Each had their place in my routine. Sure my mind should have been all absorbed in the Bible reading, but hey, I was just a kid. Even so, today I log on my computer on Sabbaths to read emails or check my Facebook and I can’t help but see the game scores. While I tell myself I can’t help but see, and it is not a sin to just glance at the scores, still, my mind goes back to my childhood when things were more black and white, and I miss those days when Sabbath was a big deal. I am not saying it is not a big deal now, it is. I mean when it was more special because we put more thought and effort into those holy hours. The point of me sharing this is this, while we live in a time where it may be easier to prepare for the Sabbath, and maybe some of the old rules do not apply anymore, i.e. taking baths before sundown, still, I think the Sabbath would be more special to us if we would make a big deal out of preparing for it. Let’s not just remember the Sabbath day. Let’s also remember the preparation day. If we do, there are some precious memories still to come!

 You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Also please visit a couple of good Christ centered sites by my friends.

http://gospelbondservant.wordpress.com/

http://sites.google.com/site/youandmeforchrist/

Sabbath Observance Myth Busters #2, Saved by Grace

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Myth Number 2: Those who observe the Sabbath are trying to be saved by their works.

I am sorry but this myth does not even make sense. People say we are trying to be saved by our works by resting on the Sabbath. So while we rest people accuse us of working? The Sabbath is a rest day not a works day, so the exact opposite of the myth is true. We rest on the Sabbath, showing our faith is in Jesus and not our works. We rest our faith in the merits, righteousness and works of Jesus and not in our own works. Fact is, Sunday observance is legalism. It is a man made day off worship and a worship system worked out by man and not God. Just like when Cain brought the fruits of his field from where he had been working, He was presenting his own works as an act of worship. God refused the works of Cain as well as all the works of men. Sunday observance is another work of man. Abel brought the lamb as a sign that he would not be saved by his works. Abel’s worship pointed towards the Lamb of God. By bringing the lamb Abel was showing that he did not trust his works to save him, but would be saved by the lamb.

 When we keep (Cherish, preserve or treasure) the Sabbath we are acknowledging the fact that only Jesus can save us. Our salvation is found in Jesus alone, so we follow His example by worshiping  on the day that kept holy.

He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.” Luke 4:16 NIV.

Notice it was not the Jewish custom it was His custom.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” Exodus 31:13 NIV.

God makes it clear. The Sabbath is not a sign that we are made holy by our works. It is a sign that He makes us holy by His grace and not our works. Think about it. Satan knows we are not saved by our works. Satan knows we are saved by grace. Satan wants us to forget the Sabbath and thus forget the God who saves us by His grace. It is not the Sabbath or the law that Satan is at war with. He is at war with God’s grace and he works to destroy any sign of God’s grace. Thus Satan has worked for years to make people forget the Sabbath which is a sign that God makes us holy by His own grace and not by our works or any man made system of worship which is legalism.

Instead of working this Sabbath to provide for you and your family, would you like to show your faith in God’s amazing grace, by resting on this day instead, and let the whole world know, as Abel did, that you believe God’s grace will provide for your every need and not your works?

“To all who receive the Sabbath as a sign of Christ’s creative and redeeming power, it will be a delight. Seeing Christ in it, they delight themselves in Him. The Sabbath points them to the works of creation as an evidence of His mighty power in redemption. While it calls to mind the lost peace of Eden, it tells of peace restored through the Saviour. And every object in nature repeats His invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Faith I Live By, p. 33.

 You may find a study on the Sabbath in the light of the cross here.

 

Sabbath Observance Myth Busters #1 Sabbath Afternoon Naps

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As Seventh-day Adventists continue celebrating the 150th anniversary of our name, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the Sabbath we observe and how we observe it. It must be important because it is in our name. The fourth commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath. Most of the world has forgotten it and thus has forgotten its Creator. Our name reminds the world that we have a Creator. However many myths exist about Sabbath keeping. Many times we have instituted our own traditions because we did not realize the true spirit of the Sabbath. This month I would like to address some of the myths about Sabbath keeping. I am in no way pretending to be an expert on Sabbath observance. I am only sharing what I feel to be true. If you disagree, please feel free to comment and say why. This blog covers myth number one.

Myth # 1: Sabbath is a time for sleeping all afternoon.

For years Adventist families have tried to abstain from doing things that would break the Sabbath, by just sleeping right through it. They figure you can’t do something wrong as long as you are asleep. Wrong! The Sabbath is a day for activity.

“…and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-12 NIV.

 

So the Sabbath is a day for doing good. We see this same thought expressed in Isaiah 58:13-14.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
       and from doing as you please on my holy day,
       if you call the Sabbath a delight
       and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
       and if you honor it by not going your own way
       and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
       and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
       and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
       The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Growing up I heard these verses used to tell us that we should not just do as we please in worldly talk or entertainment on the Sabbath, but as you read all of Isaiah 58 you get the broader meaning. God is talking about people who are breaking the Sabbath by going to church and Sabbath School! That’s right! They go to church and debate theology in the Sabbath school and then they go to fellowship lunch and sit with their friends talking their own idle words, while they ignore the stranger at the next table. God tells His people that true Sabbath keeping is doing good to others, and helping the stranger and less fortunate. God gave us the tithing system to help us systematically overcome our selfishness with money, and He gave us the Sabbath to help us systematically overcome selfishness with our time. Please keep in mind that even though Jesus did good He also needed rest from time to time.

I am not saying the Bible teaches we should not sleep at all on the Sabbath or even visit with friends and family. I just believe it is more than just that. As in all things there is a balance.

“None should feel at liberty to spend sanctified time in an unprofitable manner. It is displeasing to God for Sabbathkeepers to sleep during much of the Sabbath. They dishonor their Creator in so doing, and, by their example, say that the six days are too precious for them to spend in resting. They must make money, although it be by robbing themselves of needed sleep, which they make up by sleeping away holy time. They then excuse themselves by saying: “The Sabbath was given for a day of rest. I will not deprive myself of rest to attend meeting, for I need rest.” Such make a wrong use of the sanctified day. They should, upon that day especially, interest their families in its observance and assemble at the house of prayer with the few or with the many, as the case may be. They should devote their time and energies to spiritual exercises, that the divine influence resting upon the Sabbath may attend them through the week. Of all the days in the week, none are so favorable for devotional thoughts and feelings as the Sabbath.” {Counsels to the Church p. 270.4}

 

All Things Work Together for Good

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and “all things” that are permitted “work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28.  {Thoughts From Mount of Blessing, p. 71} 

Notice Romans 8:28 does not say all things work together for good period as is often quoted. All things work together for good to those who love God. We like Paul, should rejoice whenever our trials help further the gospel.

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death. For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:18-21

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.

What’s in the Name Seventh-day Adventist?

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This month is the 150th anniversary for when my church was given the name “Seventh-day Adventist.”  Here is what inspiration tells us about this name. “No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession and expresses our faith and marks us a peculiar people. The name Seventh-day Adventist is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God and those who worship the beast and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast. It is because the saints are keeping all ten of the commandments that the dragon makes war upon them. If they will lower the standard and yield the peculiarities of their faith, the dragon will be at peace; but they excite his ire because they have dared to raise the standard and unfurl their banner in opposition to the Protestant world, who are worshiping the institution of papacy. The name Seventh-day Adventist carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  {1Testimonies, p. 224.1

The “Seventh-day” part of our name is very important because it identifies us as a people who are resting our faith in Jesus as our sole hope of salvation.  It is only Jesus who can save us so we rest from our works and observe God’s grace on the Sabbath that He is Lord of. Mark 2:27-28. Remember you can keep the other nine commandments and worship any God you choose. The Sabbath Commandment reminds us Who God is. By observing the Seventh-day Sabbath we show that we want to follow our only example, Jesus Christ in observing the day that he taught us to observe by example. Luke 4:16. Often we abbreviate the name to just “Adventist” because it is shorter, but I believe we rob the world of a wonderful witness and testimony of God’s saving grace and rest from works and legalism when we do this. Satan wants us to forget that Sabbath commandment, and he wants us to forget the “Seventh-day” in our name because both point to God’s saving grace apart from works.

The Adventist part is special too. A true Adventist does not just believe Jesus is coming again, but loves His appearing! We are a people in love with Jesus and want to be with Him! We have a hope for a hurting world that is out of this world! Our name is a beacon of hope, pointing them to the rest that is in Jesus and the hope of His soon return! I love that name!

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.