What is the best day? Christmas? Your birthday? The first day of school? Anyone? I feel you moms! How about Sunday? Or the day you go to church. Today we are going to talk about the fourth commandment. “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.” God Himself set aside one special day out of the seven days in a week. If you do the math, if you faithfully obey this commandment, when you are twenty-one years old, you have spent three of those years attending church. If you are fifty, which I am not quite there yet, church would claim more than seven years of your life. If God asks us to do something that will take up such a big part of our life, we can see how important this commandment is to God, but is it that important to us?
So why is church so important? First, you go to church to learn God’s Word. Let’s pause right here. I fear that we can be tempted to have a bad attitude about church because we feel like we know enough about the Bible or even worse, we think we already know it all. We have Bible class and chapel here at ACA. We memorize Bible verses. By the time church rolls around, we have had enough. This is such a wrong attitude. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, the author of the book Pilgrims Progress (a book that the third grade reads), jokingly said of Bunyan “if you cut him, he would bleed scripture.” The beatitudes say that we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are to have an unquenchable thirst to learn God’s Word. We should be excited to hear God’s Word any time we can.
Secondly, it is a time to publicly call upon the Lord with other Christians. It is time to be a part of the great cloud of witnesses that proclaim God’s glory in Texas, Nebraska, North America, around the world from the beginning of time until the end of time. It is really neat to think that Ms. Williams daughter Rylee, all the way over in eastern Europe, is calling on the same God during her church service that we are here in Corpus. Our voices unite with hers and other Christians all over the world as a chorus of praise to God.
We might be physically at church but just being present is not enough. We must have an attitude of worship. Our attitude at church comes from being obedient to the first three commandments. If we behold a holy God who saved us from slavery to sin, we love Him and Him alone, forsaking all idols. If that is true, you will find heartfelt enjoyment in worshipping this great God. We need to check ourselves if we think church is boring. We get up to go the bathroom during the sermon because we are not interested. We stand there and don’t sing during worship because we are wondering what other people would think of us. If we are not at church to worship God then something is wrong with our attitude. Church is practice of what heaven is going to be like. Guess what you are going to be doing all day, every day in heaven? Yep. Worshipping God. And guess what? You will never ever get bored of doing it. The last verse of the hymn Amazing Grace is:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
John Newton, the author of this hymn, is saying after ten thousand years in heaven singing God’s praise, it will be like the first day there and we cannot wait to praise God for another ten thousand years and beyond. Each day is going to be that wonderful worshipping God.
Our attitude should be like King David’s in Psalm 42 which says
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
The first part of the commandment is to diligently attend church. Now on to the second part of the commandment. God made the sabbath day blessed and holy. Holy means set apart. Distinct. It is a day that is different than all the other days. It is set apart to stop laboring and working. To have time for peace and quiet. The Bible calls it a day of rest. It is set aside for holy things. To think great thoughts of God and His creation by stopping the hustle and bustle of our busy lives for one day a week. It is not a day set aside so we can replace a busy week with a busy day of personal things that you skip church for. There is no rest in that. It just replaces one kind of work for another.
The question is, what are we resting from? I am resting from the business of the world. I am resting from my work, which if God has called you to it, it’s a good thing. Right now your “work” is school. To do your work here at Annapolis to the best of your ability to the glory of God. But it becomes a controlling thing when I give all seven days to it. It is just the same for me as a principal, that if I keep working all weekend on school stuff, I am guilty of breaking this commandment. It means I have to be planful and work ahead so I can rest on the sabbath from my work.
Secondly, I am also resting from evil. If you remember when I brought Josiah up here and when his heart went from black to red. But the stuff around that heart was plain old Josiah that still wanted to do his own thing and turn away from God. It’s a battle to say no to those evil desires. If you have the holy spirit in your heart, you have the power to say no but it is hard. But when you do. When God gives you victory, it is literally getting a little taste of heaven. That will be what heaven is like, all the time. You will have eternal rest from sin, the flesh, and the devil. This is the motivation to fight those battles. To turn from your sin more and more each day. We want a taste of heaven here on earth so we warrior up every day.
Take a moment with me right now and rest. Enjoy the rest from being in class. The rest from rushing around. The rest from work. And just be still. We rush around with our brains constantly thinking, our bodies always moving, but we rarely find God in the busyness and noise of our lives. It is in the quieter moments that God speaks. Take this moment to reflect on Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I would encourage you to do just that. Be still. Quiet your mind and think about God. Allow your mind to think great thoughts of God. Stop thinking about what you are going to do today. What’s going to happen after chapel. Be present. Right here. Listen. Be still before God.
Here is an amazing thing. God invites you back to His presence again and again. He wants to regularly meet with you. To teach you how to love Him more. To recharge your batteries so you can fully worship Him throughout your week. Don’t miss out.