Tag: fellowship

Keeping the Sabbath

Keeping the Sabbath

Rev. Kevin R Airrington
October 22, 2010

The 4th commandment tells us to keep the Sabbath Holy.  All through scripture we see this command.  Many Christians who love God, sort of hang their hat on this commandment.  And, there is nothing wrong with this, in fact, God bless them.  Jesus said if we love Him we would keep His commandments.  Although, He probably was not just speaking about the 10 commandments found in Exodus.   (John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”)  Christians that try and truly “keep the Sabbath” as we understand it, are really saying, “I LOVE YOU JESUS.”  Who can argue with that?

No Sabbath Day holder would ever disagree with the following statement, “The primary purpose of the Sabbath is for us to rest from our worldly labors and to seek God.”  As an avid student of the Creation account and the Bible in general, I can assure that God was not tired after is creation work was complete.   *God set aside a special time for His people.  We will discuss the last sentence in more depth later.  God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it or set it aside for a holy purpose.  We are commanded to set aside time for a holy purpose.

In this essay, I would like to discuss why I chose to not go to church on Saturday and I do not honor some of the traditions surrounding the Sabbath.

  • *The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
    1. Mark 2:23-28 “… The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
    2. Isaiah 58:13-14 The Sabbath was intended to be a delight, not a burden. The focus of the Sabbath should be on what we can do and not what we cannot do. (More on this later)  The Sabbath is a time we put down our own desires and spend time with God.
  • When is the Sabbath?
    1. Leviticus 23:32, “It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” This scripture is clear that on the 9th day of the month from evening to evening we should celebrate our Sabbath.   Is this every Saturday?  According to this passage it may not even be on Saturday to begin with.
    2. Saturday in Hebrew is Shabbat, which means rest.
      1. Except for the Sabbath day, the individual days of the week have no names, just numbers.
    3. When God created the heaven and the earth, there were no calendars. Thus, no way to tell us when the first day of the week was.  Perhaps He may have begun on a Wednesday and ended the following Monday.
    4. It is only from our tradition that we assume that God started His creation process on Sunday and ended on Friday.
    5. Rabbi Yose ben Halafta (Died in 160AD) changed the Jewish calendar. So even the Jewish calendar cannot be relied upon.
    6. Exodus 20:8-11 “remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.” “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

I THINK IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE DO NOT LET THE “DAY” BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE “INTENT”.  Don’t let the “day” become more important than the “intent”.

From Scripture there is no way we can tell when the Sabbath was.   Even from outside evidence all we know is in the Hebrew it means “rest” not specifically what day of the week it is.    We cannot simply compare it to our weekly calendar and say, “well, we are not complying”.

  • In today’s modern society it is impossible to keep the Sabbath.
    1. I am sure that, “Sabbath Holders have run into this before and have their answer. Which is fine, but I cannot get away from what the scripture says.
    2. Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”
      1. If you use lights, gas, eat food or do anything that causes anyone else to work then you are not keeping the Sabbath.
      2. If your dog fetches your paper or your slippers you are not keeping the Sabbath.
  • There are other activities that the Bible tells us to refrain from in order to keep the Sabbath.
  • Going to Church…Worship on the Sabbath.
    1. Luke 4:16 is an example and Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves.
    2. We should go to church on the Sabbath and we need fellowship, uniting in worship and prayer.
    3. Today, it takes electricity to run the lights…causing people at the light company to work. If we flush the toilet then we cause the person at the water company to work.
  • What did Jesus do with the Sabbath day?
    1. While nowhere in scripture can we find an example of Jesus preaching on the 4th commandment, given He preached on the other 9, we do find examples example as in Luke 4:16 where Jesus entered into the Tabernacle on the Sabbath.
      1. This is different that “Keeping the Sabbath”. He did go to “Church”, showing us as in number 4 above that we need to be in church on the Sabbath.  Nothing more could or should be read into this.
      2. JESUS PREACHED ON ALL 10 OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS EXCEPT THE 4TH COMMANDMENT, THERE IS NO PREACHING ON THE SABBATH BY JESUS.
        1. Jesus was clear in His teaching of the Sabbath, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath!”  He also proclaimed that HE WAS LORD OF THE SABBATH.  Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5
        2. Isn’t someone who created something the owner of it?  Can’t they do whatsoever they please with it?  In this way, Jesus, being the Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:6), has every right to do whatever He pleases on the Sabbath, just as anyone of the disciples had when they were with Him.  That’s why Jesus said that He was Lord of the Sabbath.  The word Lord denotes sovereign rights and ownership so who can tell Jesus what He can and what He cannot do on the Sabbath?  Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of the day because they were making the Sabbath something that no one could possibly
    2. Matthew 12:5-6, “Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?…” Jesus was saying that even though the priests violated the Sabbath it was okay because there was something more important than the Sabbath.  The temple and the sacrificial rites were more important.
      1. Jesus, however, is more important than the temple and its sacrifices. The logical conclusion is that he is also more important than the Sabbath. Even before his death and resurrection, he was more important than the Sabbath.
      2. Although Christianity tends to reject the temple and the rites…the principle is still the same…”Some things are more important than the Sabbath.
  • The Pharisees needed to worry more about Jesus (The Holy One) instead of a holy activity on a holy day.
  1. Jesus then summarized his argument about the Sabbath and about his own identity: “If you had known what these words mean, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (verses 7-8).
  2. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that love for humans is more important than sticking to worship rituals.
  3. The Sabbath was holy only because God had designated it so, and here was God himself telling them He was Lord of the Sabbath.
  • Then they tried to set Jesus up in (V9-11). Healing on the Sabbath was work that was for forbidden.  Jesus replied, “If your sheep fell in a hole would you not get him out?”  Meaning, sometimes we have to do things even if on the Sabbath.  If your child drank a bottle of bleach…would you take him to the emergency room on the Sabbath?
  • There are other examples of Jesus healing on the Sabbath in the Gospels.
    1. John 5:1-18 — The Gospel of John has some additional stories about Jesus’ Sabbath activities, and they reinforce the emphases we have already seen. On the Sabbath, Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. And he told the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (verse 8). The Jews accused the man of breaking the Sabbath because he was carrying his mat.
      1. I think accusing a man of breaking the Sabbath by carrying his mat his mat is an example from God’s Word of how we can get carried away with (no pun intended) our keeping of the Sabbath.
    2. Jesus risked His life by His activities on the Sabbath.
      1. Jesus never broke the Sabbath, nor did he teach others to break the Sabbath. But neither did he teach against circumcision and sacrifices. He could point out administrative problems, and present himself as the Lord, but it was not yet time to publicly reject any particular law (see John 16:12-13). But the implications are there.  When John describes Jesus as working on the Sabbath, he does not feel compelled to explain that Christians cannot. When Luke says that people are freed on the Sabbath, he does not feel compelled to qualify what he said. Jesus’ example regarding the Sabbath is liberty, not rules.
      2. If Sabbath work actually dishonored God, then the Sabbath would have priority over humans in need and sheep in pits, since correct worship of God is more important than human lives and sheep. If absolute rest were essential to worship, then Sabbath-keepers should let houses burn down, since that would only be a monetary loss, and God’s honor is far more important than our material goods. This indicates that the command to rest on a specific day is a ceremonial matter rather than a moral one. God’s spiritual law does not have any exceptions.

Summary

The only time Paul mentions the Sabbath by name is when he exhorts us not to judge one another concerning the Sabbath days (Colossians 2:16-17).  Respectfully, asking if I keep the Sabbath or I conform to the Sabbath is the wrong question.  I wonder how Jesus would have responded to that?  His answer may have got Him stoned.

The Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around is perhaps the most profound statement in this whole discussion.  God created the Sabbath for man…and God healed on the Sabbath and partook in other activities on the Sabbath.   Jesus’ example regarding the Sabbath is liberty, not rules.  What a blessing the Sabbath is.

There is also no way we can determine the exact day or days (sometimes it is plural) of the Sabbath.  There was no calendar when the Sabbath was created by God.  Even the scriptures seem unclear; calling it day, days and the 9th of the month.  My thinking is the “day” is not so important as is the “intent”.

The Bible says that we are not to cause others to work, not even strangers on the Sabbath.  There is no one…not one who can “keep the Sabbath”.  If this is all there is to the Sabbath.  There has to be more to the intent than a day or whether we do some work.

We see from the Apostles, the early church and Jesus (God) that the Sabbath is going to Church.  We also see in the same breath this is for fellowship, worship and prayer…not forsaking the assembling of one another.

Finally, we have Jesus’ own actions concerning the Sabbath.  Jesus did not (and this is not meant to be a mockery) hide in his house from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.  He worked on the Sabbath and he went to Church on the Sabbath.  He even rebuked the Pharisees over the Sabbath telling them there were more important things like the Temple and people than the Sabbath.  Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath!

The Sabbath is very important to me as a Christian.  We need to just as the scriptures demand; keep the Sabbath Holy.   We need to set aside time for God.  Sundown to sundown…frankly, I don’t think this is enough.   The intent has got to be more important than the day.   I have joked with my Seventh-day Adventist friends saying, “I am a seven day Adventist” meaning, I try to keep every day holy.   However, I am like Paul; I am not judgmental on how anyone cho oses to honor the Sabbath.  If it is sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday…God bless them.  If they do this Wednesday…God bless them.  If it is Sunday morning in Church…God bless them.

I think we should be in worship and in church.  The point is we need to give God or time and that time needs to be holy and hollowed.  After all, He took the time to come down from Heaven, was beaten, tortured and murdered for us.  He deserves our worship; more worship than we can humanly give.   God wants more than our Saturdays.  He wants our Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays too!

Copyright © 2010 Kevin R. Airrington, Airrington Ministries

Living Stress Free In Today’s World

Living Stress Free In Today’s World

Pastor Kevin R. Airrington

I.  Introduction

Just over 25 years ago, I wrote my first sermon.  It was entitled, “Why Worry?” I was excited to preach it.  When the day arrived, I am not certain if all the words came out right and at least one point my nerves got the best of me and even though I had notes in front of me…I completely lost my place.  Ironically, I began to worry, worry mostly about what others thought.   Sensing my distress, friend and mentor, Alan Baker of Medford, Oregon looked me in the eye, let a out a chuckle…then smiled and said, “You stinking devil!”   I heard a couple of Amen’s and suddenly, what the devil tried to rob…I was back in control of.

Worry and stress is part of life.  But is there a way we can recognize stress and attempt to minimize it?  Let’s find out.

Is it possible to live stress free in today’s world?  That’s a good question we should all ask ourselves, because stress is one of the prevailing characteristics in today’s world.  We live in a tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of demands and complexities that have caused the stress level of the people of our society to reach epidemic proportions.

A couple of questions we must ask ourselves are, “Does Jesus offer us a stress free life?”  And does the Bible offer us solutions to living a stress free life?  I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes and that’s what I want to look at in this essay.  We will be looking at the subject of stress and the constructive solutions we can apply for living successfully in an environment that fosters stressful living.

1.  A Biblical Picture Of Stress Free Living.

Let’s begin by looking at a portion of scripture found in Matthew’s Gospel that shows us very clearly that Jesus intended for us to have a stress free lifestyle.

Matthew 6:25-33  “…do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air… why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field… if God so clothes the grass of the field… will He not much more clothe you… but seek first the kingdom of God… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This passage of scripture offers us some real hope in today’s tension-charged, fast-paced world that is full of the many complexities of modern life.

2.  Defining Stress.

Stress is simply defined as “a factor that creates a mental, emotional, or physical strain.”  It is “a state of unresolved tension arising from the pressures, irritations, and demands of life.

In biblical terms, the word “affliction” is the closest equivalent.  Affliction can also be defined as “the pressure which affects a person’s life.”  It is a broad term which includes many factors which contribute to stress.  Affliction in the Greek means anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulations, and trouble.

Keep in mind that God did not promise us that we would be exempt from the things that cause stress and anxiety, but rather He would enable us to live in such a way that these things would not affect us.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Stress is a universal problem which periodically troubles Christians and unbelievers alike.  Even Paul referred to the stress he experienced when he wrote: “We were pressed out of measure”.

2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

II. Common Symptoms Of Stress.

How do you know whether you are experiencing stress or not.  Maybe you are and you are not even aware of it.  You may think that what you are experiencing is the normal function of life.  Stress can breed a host of destructive symptoms which affect us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • mental and emotional fatigue
  • drug and alcohol dependency
  • loss of appetite
  • physical weariness
  • high blood pressure
  • frequent headaches
  •  stomach problems
  • heart problems
  • migraines
  • ulcers
  • insomnia
  • hypertension

Stress often produces a sense of anxiety, irritability, frustration, restlessness, and depression.  It creates a feeling of hopelessness and disillusionment which undermines a person’s sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in life.  Stress can keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

III. Common Causes of Stress.

What are some of the common causes of stress in our lives?  There are a number of things that contribute to stressful living, especially in our society today.  The unrelenting pressures of contemporary life, the constant challenges and deadlines of our fast-paced society, the ever-changing state of our unstable world, and the pressures of fear and uncertainties concerning the future all contribute to stressful living.

  • the tempo of life the strain of demands and responsibilities
  • a failure to seek adequate rest and relaxation
  • a poor use of time
  • a poor diet
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • wrong priorities
  • spiritual conflicts
  • a tendency to overextend ourselves
  • lack of exercise
  • insufficient communion with God
  • unresolved inter-personal conflicts
  • emotional problems
  • procrastination
  • unresolved sins

How to Join the Coronary Club: Membership Requirements

  1.  Never say No to a request ‑ always say YES.
  2.  Your job comes first; personal considerations are secondary.
  3.  Accept all invitations to meetings, banquets, committees, etc.
  4.  Go to the office evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  5.  Golf, bowling and hobbies are a waste of time.
  6.  It is a poor policy to take all the vacation time which is provided to you.
  7.  Never delegate responsibility to others; carry the whole load at all times.
  8.  Do not eat a restful, relaxing meal ‑ always plan a conference for the   dinner hour.
  9.  If your work calls for traveling ‑ work all day and drive all night to make your appointment for the next morning.
  10. 10. Fishing and hunting are a waste of time and money ‑ you never bring back enough fish or game to justify the expense.
  11. Take the briefcase home on the evenings when you do not go to the office.  This provides an opportunity to review completely all the troubles and worries of the day.

Unresolved stress can become an extremely destructive condition.  The accumulated effect of longstanding stress can eventually lead to a condition which is commonly referred to as “Burn-Out Syndrome.”

IV. Principles For Stress Free Living.

Let’s keep in mind that God desires for each one of us as His precious people to live a stress free life that is rich in God’s fulfillment.

Psalms 66:12  “…We went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

When we look to God’s solution in any matter that has the tendency to bring stress in our lives, He will bring us into a rich fulfillment.  The key is learning to trust Him and His way rather than our poorly devised plans.  Let’s look at some of God’s principles for stress free living.

1.  We Must See Things From God’s Perspective.

Life is filled with a wide variety of circumstances.  Some situations are positive, some are negative.  However, the circumstances we encounter, regardless of the nature, often produce feelings of stress.  This is especially true of the adverse situations which suddenly affect or alter the course of our lives.

A great deal of stress can be alleviated or minimized by viewing our circumstances from a godly perspective.  If we fail to perceive our life situations, at any point, as God perceives them, then we become susceptible to stress.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This can be a real liberating revelation which has the potential of freeing us from much of the self-imposed stress we experience by seeing our circumstances in a negative light.

In one of Germany’s famous art galleries, a painting called “Cloud Lane” hangs at the end of a long dark hall.  It appears at first to be a huge, ugly mass of confused color ‑‑ unattractive and foreboding.  Upon closer examination, however, you see an innumerable company of angels.  Theodore Cuyler writes, “How often the soul that is frightened by a trial sees nothing but a conglomeration of broken expectations.  But if he analyzes the situation from a position of faith ‑‑ he will soon discover that the cloud is God’s wonderful chariot of providence, full of angels of mercy.”

2.  Deal With Unresolved Sins & Conflicts.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Sin generates inner tensions and conflicts and if it’s unresolved, whether public or private, we must sincerely seek Christ’s cleansing power and forgiveness.

Whatever your conflicts may be, learn to deal with them as they come up.  The more you put them off, and the more they pile on top of one another, the more stress you will experience.  If you are experiencing irritations in your marriage or whatever, deal with them.

Conflicts with others create incredible amounts of stress.  If we are harboring hostility, hatred, resentments, or offense, we should seek genuine reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness through the scriptural steps God provides.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

3.  We Must Redeem Our Time.

Many people waste time and manage it poorly.   The inevitable result is a stress-filled consciousness.

Ephesians 5:15-16  “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

This also involves pacing ourselves in such a way that we do not take on to much in a given time, but we understand our limitations.  This also involves taking time for rest and relaxation.

4.  Give Everything To God In Prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A great deal of stress is the direct result of shouldering the burdens of life without turning to The Lord in prayer.  We have access to “the peace of God” when we release our burdens to The Lord.

1 Peter 5:7         “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

When we fail to release our problems and cares to Christ, we begin to experience increasing tension, anxiety, and fear.  Prayer is one of the most powerful remedies for stress.

5.  Trust In God’s Word.

Romans 15:4  “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

The promises and counsel of scripture provides us with a rich storehouse of stress-relieving comfort and peace.  Stress often results from failing to stand upon the absolute reality of God’s Word, in spite of our circumstances.

When we confront life’s problems, dilemmas, and uncertainties with the reality of God’s Word, we can effectively overcome a great deal of stress we suffer.

6.  Fellowship With One Another.

Romans 15:32  “…that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.”

2 Corinthians 7:13 “Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.”

Fellowship can often provide a potent remedy for stress. 

Studies have proven that interaction with loved ones and friends helps relieve the pressures of stress.

Those who isolate themselves and withdraw from people and relationships suffer a greater degree of stress-related problems.  Companionship with others provides access to warmth, love, understanding, comfort, counsel, and encouragement.

Copyright © 2011  Pastor Kevin R. Airrington.  All rights reserved.

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