Day 1: Read Exodus 20:8-11. After rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt, God renewed His special promise with Israel and lead them to Mount Sinai where He gave the Ten Commandments. The fourth was to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. God had established a rhythm of work and rest from the creation of the world (Genesis 2:2-3), and He wanted His people Israel to follow that rhythm. Why do you think Sabbath, a day of rest and devotion to God, was so important to Him? Why would God, who never tires, establish and observe this rhythm Himself? What role, if any, does Sabbath play in your life today?
Day 2: Read Mark 2:23-3:6. Centuries after God gave Israel the Law, the Jewish leaders were still striving to follow God’s commands. They had created additional rules to ensure they followed God’s law completely. The religious leaders tried to follow the law perfectly to prove themselves holy and to win God’s favor. Jesus revealed that empty rule-following was not what God was after. They had missed the true purpose of God’s commands, to change them on the inside. Jesus turned their understanding of following the law upside-down. The Sabbath command wasn’t given to restrict or oppress people; it was a gift given to refresh and renew them, to lead them to life. Here’s the bottom line: if we observe the Sabbath out of obligation, we’re missing the point. Instead, God has created us to work hard and to rest hard. We need rest. It renews us and allows us to have the margin needed to focus on God.
Day 3:God’s holy law shows us how messed up and in need of His grace we are (Rom. 3:19-24). Christ’s death freed us from the burden of the law (Rom. 8:2). We are no longer under law, but grace (Rom. 6:14). We are truly free from rules. (Gal. 5:1-6). So what now? Read Col. 2:13-17. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of Sabbath rest. In Him we find relief from the burden of this life. In Him we find rest and new life (Matt. 11:28-30). Consider praying this prayer with me: Lord we confess that in the busyness of life, we often ignore you. God we confess that we often think that by living well and following your rules, we will somehow gain favor. God we are dependent on you for every breath that we take. Help us find our rest in you. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.
Day 4:This morning I woke up and checked my phone. I made coffee and breakfast while looking at Facebook. On my way to work, I listened to the news. After a busy day I drove home listening to an audiobook. When I got home, I played with my kids, cooked dinner, got everyone bathed, fed, and put to bed. Finally, I cozied up with my wife to watch Netflix and fall asleep. It was a good day, and tomorrow will probably be similar. Most days, I also pray and read or listen to the Bible. I find I often try to fill up the quiet, still moments of my life with something, anything, to prevent me from being left alone in my thoughts. In the quiet, I remember things I’ve done that I’m ashamed or embarrassed of. The quiet screams the truth. I’m reminded of my own mortality and it scares me. Read Psalm 62. Do you find yourself trying to fill silence and stillness in your life?
Day 5: Read Psalm 23. We often fill up the restful parts of our lives, yet, it is often in the quiet when God speaks and works within us. If we don’t allow ourselves space to feel guilty, we won’t repent. If we don’t feel alone and vulnerable, we won’t fall to our knees in need of God. Our hearts cry out for times of rest and fellowship with God. Yet, rest seldom happens by accident. It requires planning and commitment. We have to intentionally set aside time. When is your Sabbath? Maybe it’s going to church or small group. Maybe it’s intentional times of quiet daily prayer. Perhaps it’s long walks, camping, or sitting in silence. It doesn’t matter so much how you observe Sabbath. God desires for you to be with Him and to refresh you with His Holy Spirit. If you don’t currently have a plan for Sabbath, take the time, pull out your calendar and schedule it.