Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding your Sabbaths

I attended the last Deeper Still conference in Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend.  In two days time my empty, poured out soul was filled to overflowing, and God had spoken directly to my heart.  A coliseum of 8,000 people and an impressive sound system.  God made sure I heard his message, and that I had plenty of witnesses. 

You can expect to hear more about my time with Kay Arthur and Beth Moore.  Today I want to share my session with Priscilla Shirer.  In that huge place of 8,000, God had his finger pointing directly at me.

Priscilla shared a message from Exodus 16 and Deuteronomy 5 about the importance of "sabbaths" in our lives. 

Deuteronomy 5
12 Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. 

Exodus 16
16 This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. 19 Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.
The Sabbath Observed
 22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”  27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 

Priscilla's message did not address taking a single day of the week to rest, but instead she spoke about finding "sabbaths" in our lives.  Things that we can cease for a while then return to at a given time after a period of rest.

  • Anything we are given by God to enjoy we are to enjoy with boundaries.  
  • The sabbath is a gift of a break.  It comes from the Hebrew word meaning "to cease." 
  • We need to leave room in our lives for the one who created us. 
  • Learn to recognize ENOUGH.
  • We often find ourselves not able to enjoy everything we have because we have too much of everything.  Think about it...your closet, your cabinets?  Ever been frustrated looking for something you know you have but can't find.  "Its in there somewhere."
  • On the sixth day, he gave a double portion.  This teaches trust.  We think we need to work harder, accumulate more.  We fear not having a storehouse because there will be lean times.  Did he not provide on the "sabbath" for the Israelites?  Does he not provide for the birds of the air and the fish of the sea?
  • Remember who we were, slaves.  Slaves are dominated by stuff.  Slaves hoard, free people give freely.
  • Free people can willingly make themselves cease
  • The sabbath is our time to reflect in what God has done for us in our lives.  If we don't defer to him, we don't recognize his Soverign position as Lord.
How many times have we found ourselves trying to work so much harder on a project, frustrated?  It seemed the harder we worked and the longer we worked, the more we struggled. 

How many times have we found ourselves rushing through things like the kids ball games, and even our time at church, and not enjoying it because there was always something to do next? 

Priscilla spoke of our tendency to make exaustion a pillar in our lives and that our children, when asked what they want to be when the grow up, should not answer, "tired."

Ever tried to "outwork God?"  I certainly have.  Suceeded it it?  Don't think so.

Take a look at what happens to the excess manna the Israelites stored that they were told not became wormy and foul.  Perhaps that job we don't enjoy anymore, or that house that never seems to get clean are places in our lives that reflect where we have tried to "outwork" God.

A day is equal to 14 percent of a week.  Our challenge was to find 14 minutes a day to pause and reflect on our soverign God and to ask for opportunities to see the areas we need a sabbath.  She also challenged us to clean 14 inches of space in our homes twice each week...meaning clearing it of excess.

God promises us freedom.  He wants us to enjoy the gifts he gives us and to remember the one who gave them. We are his children, and he takes great care of us when we let him.  Take time this week to ask God where you can use a "sabbath" and cherish his answer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Birthday Message

Philippians 1:18 (The Message)
 And I'm going to keep that celebration going because I know how it's going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done.

Birthdays, time to celebrate.  Its not about birthday balloons and party hats.  Its not about the cake.  And its certainly not about the wrinkles or gray hairs that magically appear. Its a celebration, because we know how the end of the story turns out.

I had planned to take some time on my birthday to blog the important events in the past year of my life.  My quiet time this morning lead me to Philippians 1 in the Message Bible.  A verse about celebration, and a verse that sums up the work of God in my life the past year.

Attitude is important.  In the midst of great trial, Paul and Timothy take time to reflect on the great work done in Philippi instead of getting eaten up with their current circumstances.  Its really easy to get wrapped up in the things going wrong in our lives and not focusing on what is going right.  Insignificant trials cause us to lose focus of blessings, and more importantly, the fact we know victory is at the end.  Our attitude not only helps us survive the trials, its an example to others.  We can choose to rise above or wallow within.

Love one another.  We weren't put on earth for our benefit, and the world does not revolve around our lives.  We are part of God's plan, to share his love.  I know he has called me boldly to this task and I treasure the opportunity he has given me to share his work in my life through my writing.  Its humbling to see more than 1,000 visits to my little site from countries all across the world, and to have the opportunity to have one of my posts picked up by a national Christian company's blog site.  I pray he will continue to strengthen my role in sharing the message of his love.

Be content in your circumstances.  Paul and Timothy used their time in prison to win souls.  More times than not, we find ourselves in a place we don't want to be.  We have to realize that sometimes that's exactly where God needs us to be, and we can be prosperous there.  God's plan for our lives takes us to places that challenge us to reach higher, look farther and conquer greater mountains that we would ever do if we set our own goals in life.

The Power of Encouragement.  Words aren't just random letters on a page.  They are purposefully chosen for their meaning.  They have the power to alter history, to change a person's life forever.  Its the prayers and the response of the people that give Paul and Timothy the will continue, fruitfully and full of vigor, in spite of everything around them.  We need the encouragement of others to do our best work, and even more importantly, we need to be encouragers to those around us.  Imagine the world full of encouragers and the power we would have against whatever obstacles we face!

The End.  Life is hard.  We are constantly at war every day against things that want to tear us down.  But we know something they don't...that the battle has been won, and even if its hard and long, we will be victorious!

Not for one minute do I take my time on this earth for granted.  Each birthday is special, a gift from God, to celebrate with ones I love.  Now where's that birthday cake?