Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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18. Holiday or holy day? – Part 1

18. Holiday or Holy day? – Part 1
Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”

As we continue in our series “Relationship not Rules” we come to the fourth commandment and the last command that revolves around our relationship with God, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” Exodus‬ ‭20:8‬. Of the 10 commandments this is the one that is often taken the most lightly. Against the other commandments like, “Thou shall not kill”, “Thou shall not steal”, and “Do not commit adultery” it seems rather mild and harmless. But nothing could be further from the truth. As the final commandment dealing with man’s relationship with God it concludes all that we need to know in order to experience the full and abundant life that Jesus talked about. God’s rightful place and man’s rightful place cannot be understood in life without this commandment. ‬‬There are really two parts to this command:‬‬‬‬
1. Keep the Sabbath day holy – This has to do with our worship
2. Six days shall you work – This has to do with our work.
We cannot find meaning in work without worship, and worship without work has no practical value! It is the combination of both worship and work in the right order that creates a full humanity and purpose to life. Without worship work just becomes a self-seeking endeavor that revolves around self not service and so it has no lasting sense of purpose. That is why Paul exhorted us in Colossians 3:17 that “Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Work without worship is waste while worship without work is a witness to laziness not to the Lord. We cannot experience work as a joyous thing without realizing that our work is being done for something and someone greater than ourselves. While worship without work gives no expression of God’s power in our lives to those of this world. We must honor both parts of this commandment to know God’s best in life. So lets look first at the:
A. Relationship 20:8
This command revolves around our relationship not around a rule. So often when we think of the Sabbath, we make it about not working, and so we miss the whole message. It’s not about not working it’s about worshiping the Lord, and you can’t worship if your busy with work. The Sabbath is about relationship with the Lord, and when we trade worship for work it erodes our relationship with Him. We start trusting in our work and what we can do and it’s not long before we start worshiping our work. We don’t just loose perspective we lose our purpose. Life starts to revolve around riches instead of relationship. It’s not long before our lack of time for God the Father results in a lack of time for family. We become too busy to love our kids and our spouse. Because we are investing our greatest treasure, time on riches instead of relationship. The first part of this commandment provides perspective to life because it reminds us that worship comes before work. While the Sabbath was the last day of creation for God, it was man’s first full day of existence with God. We forget that man began his journey with worship before work! And so, we should begin our week with worship, because worship not only fuels us for work, it fits us for work. Worship molds us into the kind of workers we are called to be, servants. When we find ourselves being more prone to selfishness than servanthood often it’s because we have become more of a worker than a worshipper. Worship fuels our work, but work before worship drains us, leaving us empty and weak. Without worship our work has no lasting value, it is only temporal. Instead of investing in eternal treasure we invest in empty trinkets. We work really hard and 20 years later what do we have, stuff but not satisfaction, money but no meaning. Work without worship causes us to become consumers instead of contributors. What’s wrong with our culture today is not so much a lack of work but worship. We harp on a work ethic but what good is that without a worship ethic? Nothing we do as work has any eternal significance to it if it is not done out of a relationship with an eternal God. Why because man is a spiritual being, and if what he does has not come from a spiritual perspective it has little value to it. Worship frames everything in our lives by giving significance to everything beyond a materialistic framework. Today we are making work about money instead of the Messiah why? Because we are putting work ahead of worship. While we all need money, we need to remember that we need the Messiah more. Money without the Messiah leads to misery. What kind of a witness is a workaholic to a watching world? They are a witness to what self can do not to what the Savior has done. In our minds we start the week with work and end with worship on the weekend. But what if we started with worship, Sunday would not only fuel our Monday but would sustain us everyday. God desired fellowship with Adam before sending Adam into the garden to work it. Who do you have in your life that can tell you when your work is crowding out your worship of Christ? The purpose of this commandment is to prevent people who worked most of the week from losing the spiritual dynamic to their life and thus forgetting the purpose to work and life. Failure to worship will have an impact of the satisfaction of our work! Instead of serving from a place of fullness because we have been fueled by worship, we will work to try to fill our lives. We will work to try to find meaning to life instead of work based on a sense purpose. Worship renews our spirit which in turn energizes our body. So, what about you is your work fueled by your worship or is your work keeping you from worship?

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17. Take the name but not in Vain – Part 3

Exodus 20:7
“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”
As we continue to think about being Christ’s ambassadors, we are reminded of the high calling to represent Him well. It is important that we remember that we are not just a witness to a watching world with our lips but also with our lifestyle. The way people will feel about God may largely come from the way we represent Him to the world! As Brennan Manning said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” How you care for His name will determine how you carry His name. As we think about our walk we are reminded of our:
A. Lifestyle
God’s name can be taken in vain even when His name is not mentioned. Hypocrisy breaks the third commandment and gives God’s name a bad reputation. We profane the name of the Lord when our practice doesn’t match our profession. Jesus had some pretty harsh words for hypocrites in Mark 7:6, Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Claiming to be a Christian and not living like one is a dangerous deal. Here are a few ways that we end up being pretenders instead of proclaimers:
• When we live in conflict with another Christian and refuse to follow Biblical peacemaking to resolve it.
• When we have a cold spirit or a hard heart toward God.
• When we don’t give God our time, talents and treasures.
• When we allow a root of bitterness toward God and others to take hold.
We are not called to be casual Christians who worship on the weekend and do what we want during the week. The name Christian means “little Christ” or “Christlike Ones” We are His representatives to a watching world. You are the keepers of God’s reputation in this community, in this country, and on every continent. Let’s go back to the idea of God’s name being trademarked property. We could say that He has licensed the use of His name to those who will use it reverently. God retains legal control over His name and threatens serious penalties against the unauthorized misuse of His name. One of the most chilling verses in this regard is found in Romans 2:20-24: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Instead we should lead a lifestyle of love. A while back a good friend of mine shared this story with me. “I met a man who claimed to be a Christian but something happened that caused him to question God and his salvation. He walked away from God and even defamed my character. I kept loving him, praying for him and helping him anyway I could. Last year his parents were killed in a car crash I reached out to him and told him I was praying for him. Earlier this month I received a very long heartfelt apology I told him I had already forgiven him and so would Jesus. He shared with me about how he has come back to Christ and His church.” Is your life driving people away from Jesus or drawing them to Him? Not only does our walk make an incredible impact on our witness but so do our words. That’s why our lifestyle, what we do should be backed up by what we say, our:
B. Lips
Do your lips reflect the Lord or reject the Lord? Here are a few ways that our lips can offend the Lord
1. Outright Blasphemy. Merriam-Webster says this is: “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.” Isaiah 52:5: “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed.”
2. Common Cursing. When we tell someone to go to hell, we’re sending them to a place that they’ll never get out of. Why would we ever want to call down divine damnation on anyone? Isn’t it our job to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that they won’t be damned? We see this in Luke 9:51-56 where when things didn’t go the way the disciples wanted, they desired to waste people. Christians shouldn’t get caught up in cursing people they should get caught up in caring for people.
3. Pointless prayers – These are prayers that don’t line up with the Will of God. If we are not careful, we will try to use prayer to get God to give us what we want instead of discovering and doing His Will. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He started with these Words in Matthew 6, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” His words reveal a reverence for God’s name. Hallowed means Holy, it’s what Moses encountered at the burning bush, as he was instructed to remove his sandals for the place, he was standing on was holy ground. Prayer brings us into God’s presence, and as Isaiah describes God’s presence, he talks about Him being high and exalted and the seraphim saying “holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” How easy it is for us to rush into God’s presence with some urgent concern and presumptuously demand how and when God should deal with it. This is reckless prayer not reverent prayer. Hallowing God’s name adjusts our attitude so that our focus is on the Almighty and His Will not our wants. We must not only pray that His name is holy, we must practice it because when we practice it, we preach it and therefore properly represent God to the world.

4. Careless Conversation. Some of us aren’t technically swearing or cussing but our conversations don’t honor God and bless others. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” While our talk may not be unwholesome, we need to ask is it healthy? Because while our words may not be belittling others what good are, they if they are not building them up?
5. Singing Songs. It’s very easy when we sing to mouth the words and fail to realize that we may have just declared our willingness to do whatever God wants. It has been said that Christians don’t tell lies, they just sing them in their songs.” Be careful about sinning when you’re singing.
6. Gossip – When we use our lips to talk about others instead of using our lives to love them. Don’t talk about others talk to them. A gossip is just a fool with a keen sense of rumor
7. Giving God Credit for Our Own Ideas. While I’m not discounting that God guides His people and reveals things to us, we need to be careful about declaring definitively, “God told me…” or “God led me…” unless we are absolutely sure.
8. Shortcuts and Abbreviations. OMG is a shortened way to take God’s name in vain. Do your texts, tweets and posts proclaim or defame His name?
9. Christian Clichés. Some of us love to say, “Praise the Lord” but we don’t really mean it. Or “I’m praying for you” when I really haven’t been. Those are lying lips not loving lips.
Are you declaring or desecrating His name with your lips and your lifestyle? Because what you revere you will not only respect but reflect.