Series – Keeping Sabbath
Sermon – Keeping Sabbath in a 21st Century World
Scripture Readings: Psalm 92, Jeremiah 17:21-27
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. (Psalm 92:1-4)
Monday August 19 — Jeremiah 17:21-27
As we read in Exodus 20:8-11, keeping the sabbath is one of God’s highest expectations, and one of the primary ways we experience the life God intends for us. For the Israelites, keeping the sabbath was non-negotiable. But because human beings, then and now, fail to live up to God’s expectations, prophets like Jeremiah were called and sent to remind the Israelites of the importance of the sabbath. Re-read Jeremiah 17:21. We are to keep the sabbath, “for the sake of [our] lives.” What does this mean to you? Why is keeping sabbath so important for us?
• Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the ministry of the prophets, who teach me your ways and remind me of your promises. Help me follow your command to keep sabbath. Amen.
Tuesday August 20 — Psalm 92
Although there is no mention of the word “sabbath” in the text of Psalm 92, the heading says that it is, “A Song for the Sabbath Day.” It turns out that the “Song for the Sabbath Day” is a song of thanksgiving. It celebrates and gives thanks for God’s guidance and God’s goodness. As we learn how to keep sabbath in the 21st century world, we discover that sabbath-keeping is a spiritual discipline that includes worshipping and praising God. How have you worshipped God this week?
• Prayer: God of Wonder, thank you for revealing yourself in your creation. Thank you for guiding my life. Thank you for pouring out the blessings of your goodness. Amen.
Wednesday August 21 — Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 are not directly related to the sabbath, but they speak to our 21st century lives. If we believe that Jesus is ultimately Lord of our lives and Lord of the sabbath (see Matthew 12:8), then we can trust that we find the rest in him. When we practice the spiritual discipline of sabbath-keeping, we make time to nurture our relationship with the one who offers rest, whose “burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), and who gives us life. How would you characterize your relationship with Jesus right now? Is it life-giving for you? How do you find rest for your soul?
• Prayer: Life-Giving God, today I choose to trust you more fully, to discover that your burden is light, and to find rest for my soul. I want Jesus to be Lord of my life. Amen.
Thursday August 22 — 1 Kings 19:11-17
Elijah’s encounter with God at Mt. Horeb teaches us that we can experience God’s presence in unexpected ways. Elijah would have expected to meet God in the earthquake, the wind, or the fire, but God wasn’t found in those. Elijah met God in the “sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12). One of the reasons that we need to keep sabbath is so that we can calm our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and our bodies long enough to meet God in the silence. When was the last time you experienced enough solitude and silence to connect with God?
• Prayer: God of Grace, forgive me for not stopping long enough to experience your presence in the sound of sheer silence. Help me to hear your voice. Amen.
Friday August 23 — Luke 5:12-16
Luke 5:16 is a verse that is easily missed in between two powerful healing stories (the leper in Luke 5:12-14 and the paralyzed man in Luke 5:17-26.) It simply says that, “Jesus would withdraw to deserted places and pray.” The way Luke writes this sentence, it sounds like Jesus withdrew to pray on a regular basis. It was one of his spiritual disciplines, something he did when the demands for his time and attention were high. How might you follow Jesus’ example in your own life?
• Prayer: Merciful God, I often think that I am too busy to pray. Forgive my arrogance. Teach me that nothing I do is more important than spending time with you. Amen.
Saturday August 24 — Hebrews 10:19-25
Today’s reading is part of a larger section that is often entitled, A Call to Persevere. Its point seems clear, when our faith wavers and we experience fear and doubt, we can enter God’s presence and experience reassurance. We are to, “provoke one another to love and good deeds” and not neglect to “meet together” (Hebrews 10:24-25). How does your practice of keeping sabbath strengthen your relationships with others?
• Prayer: Loving God, thank you for helping me persevere during the difficult days of my life. Connect me with others so that we can journey with you in confidence and faith. Amen.