Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘obedience’

Sabbathing

See what I did there? I think I made up a word.

If you’ve read my blog a few times, you’ll probably have picked up a theme. I’m curious about a lot of things. I always want to do better, to be better. If there’s a better way to live, behave, eat, prioritise, parent – whatever it may be, I want to find the best way and then be that. It’s a continual search, and sometimes it seems like it consumes my waking hours.

This is just as true in my spiritual life as it is anywhere else. If I can do God’s will better, then surely I should?

So: Sabbaths. Or, more accurately, The Sabbath

I’ve always wondered how it can be that the Sabbath is in the Ten Commandments, and we’re expected to keep all the other nine of the Ten Commandments, that we no longer observe a day of rest? Especially when the Sabbath is the very first commandment God ever gave. Well, the first commandment He ever gave mankind. Obviously, “Let there be light” was the first recorded commandment.

But I digress. It’s been troubling my conscience more and more, trying to work out what the rules are as far as the Sabbath goes. We’re under a new dispensation, aren’t we? Jesus’ death fulfilled the law, and Paul even berates certain of the believers for their dissension over the observances of days.

Besides, the only prerequisite for getting into heaven is believing that Jesus is the Son of God, fully God yet fully man; that He came to earth to live among us; that He died to take our place, paying the ultimate price for our sin, and that He rose again within three days, glorious and victorious over death.

If that’s all I need for getting into heaven, why keep any of the laws?

The truth is, I don’t know. I’m still working it out.

I do know that we can’t keep sinning once we’re born again. It’s against the nature of the Holy Spirit within us. It just doesn’t feel right, and as we spend more time in the Word, growing in faith and understanding, things we may have glossed over before begin to stand out as glaring transgressions. Paul exhorts us in the letter to the Romans not to take advantage of our Christian liberty. If we say we have the true, living God inside of us, and we then live a life characterised by acts of disobedience to His law, we make Him a liar. Imagine you lived with a traffic cop. How inclined would you ever be to speed, talk on your cellphone while driving, not buckle up? Not very, I’m thinking. In the same way, living with the Lawmaker makes it much harder to consider breaking the Law.

Alright, so we’ve established that while we don’t need to obey the law to get saved, we can’t help but obey the law once we’re saved, since the lawmaker now takes up residence inside us. We know that the law is there for our own protection and that of others, so it makes sense to obey the law even if your only motivation is pure logic. Without God we can’t manage it, but with Him, we can do all things.

This brings me to my next question: which laws do we obey? All of them? Some of them? The most convenient ones? The not-obviously-Jewish ones? And if not those, then why not?

Being of a pharisaical bent myself, I like a To Do list. I love having the freedom of a checklist. If I can put a tick in every box, I feel safe and assured that I’m on the right track, doing what needs to be done. That’s what I love about the Ten Commandments. I know they won’t get me into heaven, but my theory is that if I’m following those, I should be showing my love for God by keeping His commandments. I don’t take His name in vain or swear. I don’t worship other gods (well, sort of. More on that tomorrow – unless this post doesn’t wrap up soon, in which case it may be the day after). I do my best to honour my parents. I’m not good at it, but I’m sure I get an “A” for effort. I don’t lie, cheat, steal or covet (mostly. Actually, I do covet: a working vehicle; a house with interior doors; an office. Chocolate).

As you go through the list, is it as glaringly obvious to you as it is to me that we just don’t seem to expect people to honour the Sabbath day anymore?

Lesson #3: Not what you know, but Who.

I love the idea of the book of Acts. As I work through the Bible this year, I’ve been excited to get to this book because, even though I’ve read every other book from beginning to end at one time or another, somehow I haven’t ever read this one all the way through. I hadn’t even realised this until recently.

Our denomination did not result from the reformation, as a protest against Catholic ecclesiastical control in the dark ages. Rather, we were the early Christians, forced “underground” to survive, and essentially resurfacing during the reformation years. As such we take the book of Acts as the start of our denomination and try to emulate what we learn here as much as our limited human understanding (and the infinite grace of God) will allow. So I’ve been looking forward to studying how the early Church got started, and how we should be continuing today.

5 more minutes - pleeeeaase.

5 more minutes - pleeeeaase.

I really love the feeling just before I start a new book in the Bible, when I’ve planned to start it the next day. I wake up with a sense of expectation, and it’s pretty much the only thing that gets me leaping out of bed, rather than groaning under the covers for five more minutes!

When I started reading Acts this week, what struck me had nothing to do with the Church and how it started, to my surprise. Rather, it dealt with an old story we all learnt in junior school. You remember the song:

Peter and John went to pray one day.
They met a poor, lame man on the way.
He held out his palm
And he asked for an alm,
And this is what Peter did say:
“Silver and gold have I none,” said he,
“But such as I have give I unto thee:
In the name of Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth – rise up and walk!”

I’ve read and heard and sung the story many times, but what really struck me this time was what happened next. The chief priests weren’t happy with what they saw and demanded an explanation. Peter gave  brilliant apologetic:

Acts 4:8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;  10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

And then this great verse, which somehow I just never grasped before:

Acts 4:13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

How could I have missed that? Peter and John were ignorant and unlearned. They weren’t gifted or smart. They had no book knowledge and hadn’t been taught by traditional teachers. Yet despite this they spoke with wisdom, authority, power, and depth – they knew the scriptures and  their meaning. Then the leaders realised that these rough, barely-literate men had been with Jesus. Their relationship with Him gave them everything else they needed:

  • A purpose.
  • A plan.
  • A destiny.
  • Knowledge.
  • Understanding.
  • Wisdom.
  • Patience.
  • Courage and boldness.
  • Authority.
  • Power.

Without Him they were common, unschooled fisherman with quick tempers and poor manners. With Him, they were part of the lineage of grace, fathers of the descendants of Abraham, the sons of faith, promised to Abraham in the desert all those centuries ago, the fulfilment of which promise all we of faith now are.

It’s just astonishing what He can do through such weak and unfit vessels if we just bring faith and obedient hearts.

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