Sabbath: Choosing to Feast

This week we finish up looking at Sabbath-keeping as I travel on this journey of recalibrating life. The final section of Marva Dawn’s book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly is about choosing to feast. The feasting here is not all about food, instead we seem to be filling up on so much of the goodness of God, feeding on His blessings.

Dawn begins by discussing feeding on the eternal. Preparing for the Sabbath, we ready our hearts to meet our eternal God and we seek Him as we yearn for Him to reveal Himself to us through His Word. Dawn tells us that only “with humility and gratitude can we approach the table of God’s Word to feast there on His eternal love.” Further on she reminds us that only “by His grace has he chosen to reveal himself to us, only by his grace can we understand and believe what his revelation declares.”  We need to come before Him hungering for His truths and revelations seeking to recieve “the manna of His Word.” But we must come in a spirit of rest, ceasing from work, reaching and hungry for Him.

We need to find “spaces of uncluttered silence” in our lives because it is only then that we can attend to the Lord’s voice nudging us forward, or recognizing the peace that He longs to fill us with. Sabbath gives us the perfect space for this.

Recently I found some space for silence, sitting outside on our patio as I took time to enjoy writing in my journal. As I did, I was serenaded by a choir of birds singing loudly in the morning sun. There were so many different sounds, trills and tweets, chirps and cheeps, all together making a beautiful melody. I put my pen down and laid my head back, with my face tilted toward the morning sun, I closed my eyes, and just listened. Oh how sweet it was to hear them praise the Lord. Their song truly did bring my heart peace and I breathed deeply. There I sat feasting on the goodness of my Eternal Creator God.

It is in those times when we are reminded of His promises, His gifts, and His love. We quiet our hearts to  take them in, and in receiving them we thereby find ourselves feasting on the eternal.

Dawn also speaks of feasting on music. I learned to love music from my mom. I grew up in a church with musical liturgies and all the old hymns filled with rich biblical truths. Since then, I moved on to a church that does many more contemporary songs, with beautiful words and melodies, catchy tunes and repetitious phrases, but not as many deep truths.

I hadn’t really missed the old hymns until recently, when I went with Mom to the Sing to Jesus time at her assisted living home. The chaplain led us in a variety of old hymns and shared biblical truths relating to the theme of Lent just prior to Resurrection Sunday. I left there with my heart so full. Phrases from those hymns stayed with me for days, and my heart feasted on them.

Another area we can feast on as we celebrate the Sabbath is that of beauty. Dawn speaks of some special  ways she feasts on beauty, a couple of those being playing her music boxes and savoring the illustrations in various children’s books. She also mentions other possibilities, such as going to a museum, or hiking in a nature park, or just taking time to reflect on the character of God.

Just the other day I went to the grocery store to pick up a sweet treat for my mom and as I walked out I saw colorful displays of blooming garden flowers available for purchase. I stopped right there in the middle of an ordinary day and feasted on the beauty of those flowers.  The ranunculus especially captured my attention. It was not the Sabbath, but yet I enjoyed the Lord’s creation all potted up ready to be brought home. So on the Sabbath, we can take time to take a walk through a garden, or through a woods and see the beauty of God’s creation. Or we can listen to the beauty of children’s laughter at a playground or in our homes.  Or maybe we can enjoy the beauty of the voice of a loved one we haven’t spoken with in a while as we talk with them on the phone.

An obvious area of feasting discussed in this section is that of feasting on food. Dawn suggests saving some favorites to enjoy on the Sabbath. She mentions drinking coffee or tea during the week and saving hot cocoa or a specialty coffee for the Sabbath. Or having your families favorite meal on the Sabbath. It gives all something to look forward to.

Feasting on affection on the Sabbath is the last area I want to highlight. Dawn says,”the intentionality of [the Sabbath] lends itself to a conscious enjoyment of our relationships with and delight in, each other as an outgrowth of our delight in Yahweh.” 

We might take time to enjoy family relationships as we plan for special visits or offering hospitality. Or we may feast on the Lord’s love for us as we choose to be intentional about enjoying the His presence. We can also intentionally enjoy the love and affection of our church community as we attend our weekly worship service. Many times during the week busyness keeps us from really being present with others and showing love or affection. So as we celebrate the Sabbath we can make an effort to give away the love the Lord so generously blesses us with as well as recieve His love from and through others.

We set aside the Sabbath for ceasing, for resting, for embracing, and for feasting. And as we do we are nourished and nurtured, our empty selves are filled to overflowing. We are readied for the coming week. Celebrating the Sabbath is such a blessing, will you choose to set aside some time to celebrate this wondrous gift the Lord has given us?

 

*Photo from Unsplash by Stephanie Crist

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While We Wait

Our time is in our hands. We choose how we live each day.  Jesus came and died for us. He left this earth to go and prepare a place for us. The reality and truth of God’s grace should make a difference in how we live while we wait for Jesus to return. 

Titus 2:11-14 NIV “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

The apostle Paul tells us that this grace teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions. John in 1 John 1:15-17 MSG expands on this, he says:

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

We can’t have it both ways, loving the world and loving God. Matthew 6:24 says “You cannot have two masters. You will love one and hate the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Yet, it seems that we are pulled, as if by a magnet, to the things of this world and away from God. We grow distracted.

Our own selfishness leads us to:

  1. – wanting our own way in life; in our homes, in our relationships, and in our work places, even on the road. We want things to go our way. We don’t want anyone or anything to disrupt us on our way.
  2. – wanting everything for ourselves, we get greedy, we covet what others have, we can’t get enough stuff, and if our stuff gets old it isn’t good enough, we must have the newest option. There often isn’t just one t.v. in the house but two and three, even four or more, so that everyone can watch what they want when they want to.
  3. – the need to appear important. I think it is out of this attitude that so much striving comes. We strive to make our homes and lives look perfect, isn’t that what Facebook so often ends up being about? We want others to know we are on our way, we are getting ahead, we are fighting for the American dream, finding a way to have it all. We pull out all the stops. We hide the imperfections, the struggles, the problems, the maxxed-out credit cards, the bills, and the desperate pain of loneliness.

But all of this has nothing to do with the Father, in fact all of this only isolates us from Him. We become so wrapped up in self; getting things to go our way, getting all that we want, and getting others to see how very important we are, that in all the busyness and wanting, we lose sight of the Lord.

Paul tells us in Titus that we need to say “No” to all of this. He tells us that we need to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. It seems that we get so wrapped up in the temporal and worldly that we forget about the eternal and spiritual.

So, how can we keep our minds set on the spiritual, eternal realm? We can find help in God’s Word, as it gives us specific guidelines for living in this world.

  • Colossians 3:2 AMP tells us to “set your mind and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not at things that are on the earth.” (Other parts of scripture give us more detailed help, look up these verses for further study: Philippians 4:8-9, Romans 12;2, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Psalm 16:8, Colossians 3:5-9, and 2 Corinthian 10:4-5.)  Ask yourself: What can I do to help my mind to be stayed on the Lord and the things of Him? Take time to write your answers in a journal.
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 AMP “…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus...”  We are enticed and pulled into sin, Satan knows just what to dangle in front of us. What is entangling you? Ask yourself: What do I need to throw off or set aside that is distracting and entangling me in this world?
  • Galatians 5:22-23 We need to be guided by the Holy Spirit. “…the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, (gladness), peace, patience, (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control, (self-restraint, continence).” How are you opening yourself to the Spirit’s guidance? Are you yielded to Him? Can you see growth in your heart? Consider where you were spiritually a year ago; your attitudes and responses to people, conditions, life itself. Compare those to what they are like now, do you see Christ-likeness developing within? How much of a deadlock-grip does the world have on you and how you live your life?

Paul tell us that the Lord saved us for His purposes to redeem us from wickedness and to purify us to be His own, so that we would be eager to do what is good. God’s grace bought us redemption and eternal life through Jesus, what will we do while we wait for Him?

I know I am convicted by Paul’s words. I get so distracted by the temporal. It is hard to live in this world and not get lost in it’s ways. What about you?

Oh Lord, help us, we are so easily led astray. Help us wait wisely.