Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Exodus 20:8-11

Exodus 20:1-11; Acts 2:41-47 “What’s Most Important?”

  • Sermon Details
  • Pastor Name: Rev. Daniel J. Commerford
  • Date & Time: May 1, 2016

Once upon a time, there was a man who made himself very rich. But he was also just as greedy as he was rich. He loved his money more than his wife, his children, he loved his money more than anything! When he was on his deathbed, he told his wife that his last wish is that he would be buried with all his money so that he could take what he loved most to the afterlife with him. After he died, his wife made the arrangements to honor his wish and just before they closed the casket, she placed shoebox inside. When her friend saw this, he asked her, “You’re not crazy enough to bury him with all that money, right?” “Of course I am,” The wife replied. “I am a good Christian woman, and I want to honor his wishes.” “So you’re telling me that you buried all of that money in the ground?” “In a way,” the wife replied. “I put all of the actual money in my bank account, and I wrote him a check that he can cash at any time.”

It’s clear that the rich man in this story had a hard time figuring out what was actually important. For that reason, he spent a lifetime prioritizing something that he could not take with him to the afterlife. As Christians, we would testify that our relationship with God is the most important thing in our lives, but it’s often a struggle to live out that priority. All of us have had moments or seasons where things seem to get in the way. We will focus on this struggle as we continue our series on fulfilling our faith. A few weeks ago, we began this series by exploring how to submit to God alone, and last time we were together, we explored how our words communicate our faith. Today, we will see how God gives us the wonderful gift of the Sabbath to foster the most important thing we will ever be given.

In our Exodus passage, vv. 8-11 say, “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” If we examine this passage, we see that God separates our week into two parts. The first part is the work week. In this case, God gave his people six days to work, six days to get everything done that needs to get done. Six days to build a life for ourselves. But then there is the second part, and that is the Sabbath. On that one day, God commands us to keep it holy because he made it holy. That’s the main difference between the rest of the week and the Sabbath…God blessed and consecrated the Sabbath and commands us to keep it holy.

And I think the reason that God blessed the Sabbath and made it a holy day is because he knows how important it is to take intentional time to foster what is important in our lives. The Sabbath is a day to rest, to spend time with God, and to strengthen our relationship with God by strengthening our relationship with each other. Six days of our week are for our own gain, but the Sabbath is for God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. For that reason, we are commanded to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy, and we keep it holy by taking intentional time to strengthen our relationships with God and with our family.

To be honest with all of you here, this may be one of the hardest commandments for us to keep, especially as Americans. We do a really bad job at keeping the Sabbath! For a lot of us, our jobs get in the way. We work, work, work from dawn to dusk in an effort to make as much money as we can, and we wind up prioritizing our work over our relationship with God. For others, it’s the busyness that comes with our commitments. Instead of spending our Sabbath with God, we spend it at the soccer fields, or at the grocery store, or at something else we have filled our time with. And for some, we have a hard time with Sabbath simply because we don’t care that much about our faith. We all may say we prioritize God, but our schedules and wallets tell a different story.

The ironic thing about the busyness that we get ourselves into is that it often achieves the opposite of what we want it to. Instead of being prosperous, we find ourselves run down. Instead of being happy, we find ourselves more depressed than ever. Instead of feeling at peace, we find ourselves stressed, anxious, and more worn thin than ever before. And that’s exactly why God commanded us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. There is a time to work, and a time to earn our living, but that’s not holy time. Our holy time is the time we intentionally seek out to strengthen our relationship with God and with our brothers and sister in Christ.

How are we doing at observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy? If we find ourselves in need of a model of how to spend our holy time, we need to look no further than the Early Church. In Acts 2, the church was brand new. And every Sabbath, they left whatever they were doing and they came together and worshipped God as a family. They welcomed newcomers and baptized them. They devoted themselves to prayer. They ate together. And day-by-day, they grew in numbers and they grew spiritually. But in order for that to happen, they needed to leave behind their routine…leave behind the stress and the hustle and bustle of their lives and take time to be with God and each other. That’s what Sabbath is all about, and that’s what Sabbath can do to a community that seeks it earnestly.

When we do take the time to get away from our busyness, God can do great things in us and through us! I didn’t realize how much I needed a Sabbath, which is a nice way of saying that I didn’t realize how bad of a job I was doing at keeping my Sabbath. Between everything going on here at church, the load of being a new Dad, and juggling different responsibilities, I realized that I got myself in a rut. And I was tired. I was weary. I was in need of a Sabbath. And then God brought me up to Montreat, where I spent a week with other pastors at a conference. And like the group in Acts, we devoted ourselves to scripture and prayer. We worshipped together. We ate together. And before I knew it, I heard from God in a way that I hadn’t heard in a long time. Through this Sabbath that I took, God renewed me and gave me a clearer vision for moving forward. But it took intentional time to get away and devote to God. It took taking a Sabbath to get there.

As we leave today, I’d like each of us to examine how much of a Sabbath are we taking. How much time do we intentionally set aside to strengthen our relationship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ? And if we struggle to take a Sabbath because of our jobs, our families, or our other obligations, maybe we should be asking ourselves what’s most important to us. The hope we have is that God has shown us how important we are to im, and he promises to meet us where we are so that we can, no matter where we are in our walk with him, continue our journey. So may we all find that bit of Sabbath that God calls us to have, so that we may be strengthened and renewed through God’s eternal Spirit. To God be all glory, honor, and praise, amen.