One of the greatest things that has come out of this sabbatical has been the time for study and the insights I have gotten out of that. I thought I would share some of my study notes from the last couple of months. Some of these ideas I will be developing into my first two sermons in November.
Time is not the encumberance. It is space that encumbers time. When we say, “There is not enough time”, it is usually a complaint about the things to do, not the time itself. Interesting, then, that honoring Sabbath becomes the time to refrain from “our own interests” – those things which we give that time to. Do we operate from a Psalm 96 mindset or a mindset that the world will come to an end?
The word I keep seeing is “faith”. My personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ is important for me because it has implications not only for my soul but for my physical body, mental health and emotional stability. It also defines my professional identity and responsibility. “The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you.” I must know the Jesus in me in order to help others find (and for me to find) the Jesus in them. I must be willing to stand out of the way and let Jesus be lifted up. This happens only when I am strong in the Jesus in me through the presence of His Holy Spirit and allow that to guide my thoughts and deeds. Rest from work becomes setting free the Jesus in me.
I keep hearing the idea of changing attitude. We so often do not want to let go of the pleasures of the flesh. However, it is the stubbornness that ultimately keeps us at a distance from God. In order to let go, we must begin by reorienting our heart and mind to Christ. Once the attitude is dealt with, once the soul is in line with Christ, it will want the rest of us to join with it. Committing to a Sabbath time and honoring it as one honors a marriage can reorient our attitude by establishing that there is nothing more important than our time with God.
The church gives me the time and the task to enter into Scripture on their behalf and bring back a word of truth. This is not just about speaking to culturally relevant issues; this is about helping people find the power of God today and the promise of God for tomorrow. That I get to be involved in this work is indeed an honor, and one I should not take lightly. I must also remember that I operate on behalf of God as well as the church. “Response” is not the end – response may happen much later. Help people hear the truth of God, and God’s Holy Spirit will do the work that brings a response.