Today we're talking about Sabbath.
In the beginning God created…. Familiar words bringing many images to mind. Here’s some thoughts we might not consider...
First, God created all we now see
from nothing. Knowing that God is an omnipotent God we may conclude -- So what? Of course He did. But I want to suggest that everything coming from nothing WAS a big deal.
If you made dinner from scratch that’s more work than heating up ready-made, right? But what if cooking from scratch meant you not only created a fresh meal, you did it with BASIC ingredients ~ very basic. The ingredients SO rudimentary that when making an omelet you wouldn't go to the store for FRESH eggs, you would CREATE the eggs ~~ and everything else that goes in the omelet. That's cooking from scratch! And that is what God did when he created all we know ~ including us.
Genesis 2:1-3 begins,
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all his work which God had created and made.”
There’s an old joke that goes sort of like this:
The Master made the planet Earth. The evil one complained that he wanted to make his own planet. He petitioned the Master for permission. “Fine,” the Master said. “Great,” replied the evil one. Anxiously he looked around. “Where’s the dirt?” he asked. The Master smiled and replied, “Make your own dirt.”
If God rested when His task was complete, do we need rest? Do we need to take rest at all? Or can we put it off until vacation rolls around? God rested and sanctified the seventh day calling it, Sabbath.
I think God sat back that day and looked at all He had done ~ and He thought to himself, ‘This is good. I think I’ll sit here a while and enjoy it...’
Do you take time to sit and look at all God has done? As I wrote previously: "What happens in those moments when rest comes and God blends in? What IS that amazing thing?"
It's Sabbath. One hour or one week, it's God regenerating all we are... giving rest and a reboot. Freedom!
A big, d-e-e-p breath in … and slowly out. “Oh LORD, I needed this moment.”
Life can get so full. Even in the presumed slow of vacation, we can fail to rest.
Do I need to plan quiet? Quiet with God and rejuvenation? What happens in those moments when rest comes and God blends in? What IS that amazing thing? I have known Him a long time now, and I still can’t explain it. But I do know that it’s real.
On page 136 Priscilla writes:
Israel was free. They were no longer a slave people.
But being officially declared free doesn’t automatically take the slave mentality out of a person’s heart and mind, now, does it? God knew He would need to radically adjust their perspectives in order to get them thinking like people who weren’t slaves anymore. Enter … the Sabbath.
Let me ask a crazy question. Are you busy? Is your life full? Are there moments when you even forget what rest feels like? Enter the Sabbath?
I started this snippet with a statement of my own condition because this is my third day of vacation. Along the shore I should easily find quiet and rest. Seagulls calling, the cool of ocean spray in the breeze, the waves rhythmically rolling... Rest should come natural, right? Yet I have been compelled to fill every minute with something. Why?
So the question of the moment: If God knew the people of Israel needed a reboot to free a mindset mired in slavery, wouldn’t it seem reasonable that if I am in slavery to this contemporary, cram-it-full lifestyle, don't I need a similar reboot? Enter a Sabbath?
Consider your freedom. Friday we’ll look at Sabbath.
Many women have commented that they love Priscilla's writing style. She's very approachable, relatable, and even friendly. I love it too, and found this chapter particularly real.
On page 119, Priscilla writes: "Don't touch that! You don't know where it's been!"
The truth is we all might want (really want) something that seems harmless, even godly and good. Wanting it too could be a problem. It may be extreme exercise? It may be a hobby? It might even be ministry! Whatever the temptation, you can be sure your enemy has made it look like the most beautiful little bauble you ever saw, promising joy, accomplishment, success, or even health!
Our enemy knows how to take something GOOD and make it BAD! How? When something becomes more important than our family or our God, even a good thing, we need to remember 'where it's been, and whose behind this obsession.'
So you're probably asking: How can I overdo a 'good' thing? How can I spend too much time doing anything that brings good into my life, or the lives of others?
When we become too busy for God, or we have a shortage of quality time with our spouse and children that brings hazards. Just a word on lack of family time. Do you know anyone who has been divorced or is having a tough time in their marriage? Has there been a strong practice of family time in the home?
Or how about when our time with God is short (or nonexistent)? Does our heart become hard of hearing? Does a distance in our Divine relationship grow. Bad choices happen more easily because His input is not sought. We are deciding WITHOUT God's principles ~ using worldly wisdom.
We can spend too much time doing even the good (or God) stuff. When you realize you are out of balance, and that something, maybe one GOOD thing has replaced everything else, it's time to tell yourself: "Don't touch that!" Because you know where it's been and whose at work!
I tell you what! There are days that just seem l-o-n-g!
Generally, they are days when I get a disappointment, or wrestle with anger about something… that probably happens to all of us. Well, I ran onto this Scripture at the chapter-end of Priscilla’s strategy on Your Past. It seems appropriate today.
It’s Isaiah 43:18-19a, and it reads like this:
Thus says the LORD …
Do not call to mind the former things
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
…. Will you be aware of it when God does something NEW?
Sometimes the greatest changes happen in us without our participation. That’s one of my guiding principles for knowing when God has done something in me
(as opposed to changes I may have manufactured within myself).
Those changes may feel like discomfort with a healthy dose of passivity thrown in. They may first be noticed in a situation, circumstance, or whatever, when previously resistance and/or even anger may have been the response. Yet, the old way has gone.
I could laugh when I tell you that I am often surprised when one of these changes appears for the first time realizing how out-of-my-control my behavior in that moment is. How thankful I am in God’s loving touch to help me when he recognizes readiness to improve on what I could laughingly call my countenance.
So, will you be aware of it? When change comes that you had nothing to do with?
When you recognize it’s pleasant result and realize you have done no wonderful
thing to create this change ~
but that God had taken mere readiness and shaped it a little.
And then it’s time to giggle and thank our LORD and God
for his kindness and sense of humor.
At the time of our women’s blog on Priscilla’s book, Fervent, I was also teaching a class on the book ~ those ladies chose today’s snippet as the biggest thought in Priscilla’s book.
Page 57, in the Strategy: Your Identity, Priscilla wants us to think about our habitual mistaken identity, writing,
“The enemy wants you to suffer from a case of mistaken identity. … He’s working overtime to keep your identity masked, to keep the truth from coming out--that you are indeed alive and free and empowered by God’s own Spirit and able to fight victoriously against the one Christ called the ‘father of lies’ …”
The enemy wants us to forget our lineage. With sleight of hand he mixes that truth up with lies like it’s a shell game. When circumstances get hard, when we struggle to find resolution, peace and victory, the one Christ named the father of lies wants us to waste our time and energy trying to figure out where all the power went! But, as the ladies in class repeatedly said, the enemy doesn’t want us running to ‘Daddy’ for help! He wants us to forget who we are ~ to forget that WE ARE the daughters of the King!
Next time you see your image in the mirror try imagining what the father of lies must see when he looks at you ... because he sees a princess wearing a glowing crown ~ shining with the immense, unstoppable power of her Daddy and King!
I don't want to leave this discussion about the one behind the curtain until we touch on the last part of this thought mentioned by Priscilla.
On the bottom of page 50 she begins,
"Personalize your prayer by asking God to help you pull back the curtain today--and every single day-- so you can see when the devil is behind the argument, the frustration, the anger, the discord, the falsehood, the insecurity, the fear."
The picture above was the Wizard of Oz in his true form. Amazing isn't it ~ such a difference from the picture he tried to project to intimidate and manipulate for his purposes (as seen in Friday's post) .
So what's behind your curtain? Are there 'bogeymen' hiding? My littlest grand babies get big eyes when I might mention bogeymen. And the oldest of the two would assure me (although I'm quite sure she is really trying to assure herself) that, 'Bogeymen are pretend, Nanny.' Both of them have a sound understanding even now that God is with them. He is everywhere. He knows everything. And even though bad things do happen in our family just like they do in every family, they believe that God does still, and will always, love us.
One day their parents will have the talk about the evil one, yet at this tender age I'm sure we don't need to bring him up just yet. But you and I are not so naive or innocent and we DO need to consider the evil one.
Just so you know what to look for, here's how Christ described him. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." So anytime things are going sideways it's safe to wonder if it's just the Wizard again trying to get his way.
Always remember how Christ finished the thought above. He said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
In Strategy 3 Priscilla brings back to mind the Wizard of Oz.
Released in 1939, the story was a huge success. If you're unfamiliar with the tale, briefly it's about a young woman, Dorothy, who dreams of an alternate place where there is a kingdom run by a mighty wizard who calls himself the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. He tells Dorothy he holds ALL THE POWER in the land, and that he, and only he, holds the key to her way back home. However, she later finds out the Wizard is no wizard, he has NO magic, and she has always had the power to go home. All she had to do was FOCUS on home!
"He [your enemy] wants you focused on things that are physical and visible instead of where the action really is. "Pay no attention," in other words, "to the man behind the curtain."' Page 40.
Illusionists are remarkable. They can do unfathomable things right in front of us. They're fun to watch, but we all know they are just using a trick, albeit a good one, but it's just a trick done while distracting our attention. That's the point Priscilla wants us to see as we consider our struggles and situations in life. There's often a man behind the curtain making smoke, and flames, and ominous images to scare the stuffin' out of us leaving us so frightened we forget WE HAVE THE POWER we need to stop him cold. Christ accomplished that victory!
Will it change our circumstances? If God's will at that moment is our testing resulting in growth and more opportunity, then perhaps not. But if our suffering is the trembling, uncertainty, fear and confusion of that distraction brought on by the enemy, then YES we can eliminate that!
The trick this illusionist employs is one of distraction. He knows if you stop long enough and think about it you will realize you have power, and that Christ has already defeated ALL the nonsense the enemy can throw against you.
The enemy's means of warfare against us and our joy is: Distract, DISTRACT, DISTRACT!
Don't be fooled by the man behind the curtain. He's only a pathetic, hopeless and vanquished foe.
How do you define ‘passion?’
A strong desire?
An intense enthusiasm?
How about an almost-uncontrollable emotion?
How do you think passion feels? Is it intense like the cold of a snow-cone on a muggy summer afternoon? Is it fascinating like a fire’s flame dancing in the wind? Or can it be comforting like that much-needed hug telling you that not all your world is falling apart?
Priscilla writes on page 26 that our passion is ‘our want-to.’ “Passion is the fuel in the engine of your purpose. It’s your ‘want-to.’”
I’m a grandmother … a “Nanny” to be exact. I love having the grandchildren with me. It’s one of the biggest classrooms I’ve ever experienced. The fresh outlook on life that I get from watching them has become one of my greatest passions. They teach me about myself, about giving and humbling oneself, and even the simpler things I no longer wonder about, like l-o-v-e….
The youngest had a challenging phase of those terrible two's. He needed to find motivation, a want-to to change those ‘terrible-two’ behaviors into growth. I found his want-to in the basket holding our spare change.
The rule was: When you do something nice for someone, especially if they don’t have to ask, then you can choose a coin from the change basket; and we will make a Good-job Mark on the board so you can keep track of how many times you have been awesome.
So how does passion feel? It feels good when it represents movement toward growth! I am not going to tell you that I ALWAYS have devotional time before my day is totally flying everywhere, but I try ~ and on those successful days, well, time with God makes me feel awesome. It is my best, and most-beneficial, passion!
On page 18 Priscilla describes how she began developing strategies with her own prayers:
“… I began by considering my most pressing dilemmas--the ones raging in my own heart, my family, my finances, my health, my ministry--and then started writing down my own battle plans for dealing with them, based on the truths of Scripture...” [emphasis mine]
FIRST we evaluate our life. What areas need attention first. This is how Priscilla began. Our greatest concern might be in issues we have within the workplace. It might be in our marriage relationship. Whatever the top issue (s) are we can use the Scriptures Priscilla added at the end of each chapter to build those powerful, WINNING strategies; or we can look through our Bible’s concordance to find our own inspiration in Scriptures promises, prayers, etc., (usually found in the back of your Bible).
A concordance is like a dictionary. It includes proper names and significant topics found within scripture phrases and references. It’s the place to go to find a verse when you only remember a word or two, or a significant phrase within that verse. It will list all scripture verses related to a name or topic and you discern which one applies.
Building your prayers on Scripture can be as simple as inserting your name into a biblical prayer. Building prayers for your specific strategy does not mean you must use the entire prayer as found in scripture either. Parts that you feel apply to you are all that’s necessary. I strung many prayer-parts together when building mine. God knows what I’m asking - so do I. Also allow that your prayers may change over the days to come. EVIDENCE the Holy Spirit is meeting you!!!
Can’t we make up our own prayers? Yes, you can. But here’s what I have found personally when I use biblical prayers… They feel different. You have heard the phrase, the Living Word. It refers to the interactive engagement this Book has with your life. It can bring change, forgiveness, restoration, power or courage, nearness to God ~ whatever, WHATEVER you may need in those moments the Word of God can provide.
It’s a two-way conversation! That is a RELATIONSHIP. A living, breathing relationship between two living organisms. You. And God.