Have you ever wondered why everyone around you seems to have spiritual victory in their life and you seem to have nothing? We don’t let those around us know that we are struggling. We walk into church with a pasted-on warm, exuberant smile on our faces.
We might have
- fought in the car on our way to church
- felt like failures in our own personal lives
- lost battles with temptation to the point of deep spiritual discouragement all last week
- But as the car stops, and our feet hit the parking lot, the pasted smiles go on. We walk into church with that warm grin on our faces.
Shaking hands with those we meet. In response to the question, “How are you brother/Sister _______?” we respond with the patent Sabbath morning answer, “Doing wonderful, Isn’t God so good!”
We are afraid: that if anyone sees what is really going on inside, they might look down on or reject us.
We are Ashamed:
- That anyone should find out.
- That the gospel seems to work for everyone else but ourselves
- That we aren’t disciplined enough to overcome
- That we may even love our sins, and not want to stop
- That there must be something wrong with us, that prevents God from working the miracle of overcoming in our lives.
After all, we are Christians, Seventh-day Adventists Christians, we are supposed to have it together. And so we continue living this facade, fooling no one but ourselves. The terrifying question haunts our minds, “Can God really can help me overcome these spiritual shortcomings that seem so overwhelming?”
“Others he can save, but me?”
And so we sit there on Sabbath morning, struggling with the sins of our lives, wearing a façade on the outside, but deeply struggling on the inside.
Why is the Sabbath so important at the end of time?
Because the Sabbath is the essence of a relationship with God. Before there were Jews, before there was sin, God saw the importance of adding one more day to the weekly cycle, a day into which He would pour a special portion of His blessings
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3
God set’s this day aside. He blesses it, He sanctified it, and He hollowed it.
Why? Because the only way perfection could stay perfect, was by His people building a perfect relationship with Him. Even in Eden, there was a danger that His people would become so rushed in their work, that they would forget their creator. They needed to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Could the reason we struggle in our walk with God and victory over sin be because we have forgotten the importance of being still and knowing that He is God?
Be Still and Know
We struggle to be still and know. “The US is the most overworked Developed Nation in the World.” The average American works more hours per week than any other first world country. Seconded only by Japan.
A survey conducted in 2014 found that 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Another 73% experience regularly psychological symptoms caused by stress (https://www.stress.org/daily-life)
We are a stressed-out society. We work so hard, that we find little time for the other areas that are important. The stress of work and the demands of life are a huge strain. Time is at a high premium, and two areas began to suffer. Our families and our relationship with God.
We are so rushed, that we don’t see how we can take time for our devotions in the morning. And worse, we don’t take time for our children or spouses.
We might have the devotions, but we rush in and then right back out. We barely take time to say hello to Jesus before we are slamming our Bible’s shut and running out the door.
But this doesn’t work.
Maybe an illustration will help make the point.
Suppose that I am taking my wife (Lindsey) on our first date. In preparation, I book an exquisite restaurant. Soft music is playing in the background, candle lite softly dances on the tables. She’s in a stunning dress, and everything is perfect.
As we sit down to eat, Lindsey can tell that I am rushing. As the food arrives, I wolf it down. I talk rapidly and only listen when my mouth is stuffed with food. The atmosphere becomes tense. When she starts talking, I tell her to hurry up because I don’t have a lot of time—I’ve got so much to do! After about 10 minutes, I tell her how much I’ve enjoyed our few minutes, tell her I’d like to go out again and run out the door. Leaving here sitting at the table alone…
How did I do? Did Lindsey feel validated or important? Do you think she’d want to meet again? Of course not! That would have been the first and the last time we would have gone out.
And yet, how often do we do this to God? We rush into our time with Him, looking at our clocks the entire time, and then rush right back out. Barley taking time to connect with our savior and King!
Are you wishing for victory in your life? Could it be that you are rushing (or entirely) skipping your time with Jesus?
Notice what Christ told a very hard working woman in the Bible:
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-41
Is it important to take care of strangers?
Absolutely! Paul says, in Hebrews 13:2, that by so doing, some have entertained Angels unaware.
But, which was more important, hosting or sitting at the feet of Jesus?
Is it important to take care of our families?
Absolutely! Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:8, says,
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Yes, we must take care of our homes!
But, which is more important, providing for our families or sitting at the feet of Jesus?
You won’t be able to provide for your family if you are NOT sitting at the feet of Jesus!!
Do you think your family would rather have money or a happy home? A father that is so stressed that he takes it out on his children, or less money and a father who is close to Jesus and showing His love to his family?
Would your children rather have a mother who is running ragged or a mother who is so filled with Jesus, that she carries Him into everything that she does? So marriages have split up, not because of a lack of money, but because the spouses did not have time for each other.
Dear reader, the Sabbath is a call for us to come back to the priorities that God has called us to keep.
God is trying to save our homes, our families, and you!
“But,” I can hear you say, “I don’t have the time! I would love to spend quality time with Jesus, but the pressures of work, school, and/or family are too much!”
If you do not have time for God and your family, then you have taken on more then God has asked you to do.
God calls you to cut back. The Sabbath is a call for us to prioritize our lives. Take a pen and paper and write down a two-column list. At the head of the first column write: Current priorities. Under this column write what you are currently doing. Ask yourself some diagnostic questions. What takes the most time from you? What will you skip devotions or family time for? These are your priorities. If an emergency call comes in from work, will you cancel a family vacation? If a friend calls asking you to help them at their house, will you forgo time with your family to help them?
For the second column, make a list of what your priorities should be. The first two items on this list are:
Everything else comes after these two.
Before you re-order the list, read this inspired counsel.
None should permit themselves, through the week, to become so absorbed in their temporal interests, and so exhausted by their efforts for worldly gain, that on the Sabbath they have no strength or energy to give to the service of God. We are robbing the Lord when we unfit ourselves to worship Him upon His holy day. And we are robbing ourselves as well; for we need the warmth and glow of association, as well as the strength to be gained from the wisdom and experience of other Christians. Child Guidance 530.1
If you think your responsibilities are still too important or pressing to re-organize then consider the following.
How much responsibility does God have?
Heb. 1:3, “upholds all things by the Word of His Power…”
The entire universe is run by His government. Every being in a limitless space is sustained by God. His responsibilities are infinite. And yet, what did He do?
If God could prioritize resting on the Sabbath ahead of governing the universe, shouldn’t you be able to re-organize your time to spend with Him? Are your responsibilities really more important then His?