Tag: Sunday

Service Ruts

Isaiah 29 – Judgments against Jerusalem because they were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (v13-14). Jesus also later used this against the Jews.

We need to consciously avoid spiritual ruts. Doing and saying the same thing all the time is not conducive to spiritual growth. I think church services should bend over backward to make each service different somehow. Pastors need to allow the Holy Spirit freedom to move among the people and trust that the Spirit will do this if allowed. Unfortunately, humans like to control things (even God’s Spirit) because it somehow gives the feeling of security and safety. I recall my boyhood church always singing 3 hymns and the sermon always lasted 20 minutes. I prided myself being ready for the next agenda item in the bulletin. My eyes and attention was on that bulletin schedule, longing for its end. Little did I know at that time that I was falling into the category of Isaiah 29:13!

Now I’ll go out on a limb – even what I would deem as “spirit-filled churches” have dulled their spiritual senses by having the same routine every Sunday. Let us not put God in a box. I remember one Sunday my pastor preached a great sermon, and at the end he said that at the last minute, the Spirit told him to not preach from his prepared notes, but rather wing it! Now there is faith and freedom! Why not let worship continue “past the ordained time” sometimes? Why should worship always contain songs? We should do what the Holy Spirit wants us to do when we gather in Jesus’ name. Maybe that means to stimulate a discussion among the congregation about some Biblical topic, rather than a traditional sermon. Maybe people could get up and share testimonies for an entire or part of a service. Maybe we could put down the musical instruments once in a great while, etc., etc. C.S.Lewis maintained via his Chronicles of Narnia books that Jesus is not a tame lion, but He is good.

Church structure today, perhaps unwittingly in many cases, has played “lion tamer” all too often. At first, few notice. But over time, the Spirit fades from the service, or it isn’t quite as strong as it could be. If services were more free, more people would come with higher anticipation. High anticipation is faith within the heart of the believer that God will speak to them and that they will also be used by God to touch someone else. That attitude is being gradually lost, even in some good churches…ouch!

I am not advocating pastors allowing people to go crazy in the church. There are parameters of common sense and decency. What I am saying is let us not fall into a routine that will become dull over time, or not what it could be. Many churches start out great but lose something over time. The Holy Spirit is the best One that can “think outside the box.” People’s needs will be met if we truly allow that Spirit free reign.

Feedback so far:

NF – Excellent—-so very true!

GR – Continued great work. AMEN. Church services from time to time can indeed become mundane. At FBBC there is DEFINITELY a routine every Sunday. Our WED services are much more open and unstructured. In any event, I agree, we need to vary things and NOT get in that rut. Audience participation is always fun. We do that Wednesday nights.

Mickey L (4/20/13) – Amen Amen Amen.

The Sabbath Day Today

Sabbath insights from Isaiah 58:13-14 deal with attitudes toward the 7th Day when God tells us to cease from our ways and words, and delight in Him. In stark contrast, people who seek their own pleasures on the Sabbath Day are dishonoring God. I’ve heard some guys say they feel closer to God on a golf course on Sundays than in church. I’ve wondered if this is during or between using swear words after poor shots. According to Isaiah, the god they worship is not the God of the Bible. Our culture does its best to lure people into doing their own pleasures on Sundays – kid’s sporting events, pro sports (it’s known as “Super Bowl Sunday,” not Super Bowl Saturday), every PGA Tour Final round is on a Sunday, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc., etc. Everything but God’s Day!

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is becoming rare, even for Christians. This issue has nothing to do with salvation, but does have something to do with respecting what God has said, and it’s even for our own benefit. Just like soil needs to be left fallow every 7th year (before modern chemical fertilizing) so the nutrients can be replaced, so too, human bodies need rest and a change of pace one day out of seven.

The Old Testament Sabbath was Saturday. The early Christians celebrated Jesus’ resurrection on Sundays so that day became “the Lord’s Day.” Years later, the Roman Catholic Church officially changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday believing it had the power from God to do so. The idea of change via that Church stemmed from Emperor Constantine, who, in 321 AD, made the change mainly because he was a sun worshiper. To this day we wonder if his conversion to Christ was real or just a political angle working in his favor for power.

Under the New Covenant, no day is holy or holier than any other day (Romans 14:5). We are to walk in the spirit each day as Christians. Every day is Christmas and Easter morning for us. I recall a person walking by my classroom during my break and she heard Christmas songs from my CD player in the month of March. This struck her as being odd, so she stopped and commented. I simply said that every day is Christmas and Easter for me. She thought about that (and hope she is still thinking about it).

I do see a need, however, to honor God’s Word by being aware of what we do on Sundays, since this is the day we consider the Sabbath. We should not become legalistic about this and begin to draw rigid lines about proper and improper behavior or activities for Sundays. Certainly attending a church should be part of the day. When possible, we should also take it easy the rest of that day. Sometimes work is not avoidable, but when it can be, it should be. When it comes to kids’ sports, playing on Sunday morning should be avoided unless it is a rare occurrence. So, to allow a child to play a sport, especially tournaments, once in a while on Sunday mornings is reasonable to me, but not if it is every Sunday for a long period of time. What’s better for the child, valuing sports (doing what he/she wants to do) or valuing growing in Christ by putting Him first?

Now the Seventh-Day Adventist Church contends that Saturday is the Sabbath and it was wrong for anyone to change that. I say honoring God on Saturday is fine, as long as they grasp my comments in the previous two paragraphs. Honoring God one day out of seven is a good thing, but it does not make anyone holier than others and should never turn into a legalistic mindset. Colossians 2:16-17 says, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day; things which are a mere shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

In today’s culture, we need to be ever aware of the things that this world offers us that will vie for our affections and take our hearts away from loving Jesus and serving Him. Beautiful, sunny golf courses may cause us to think about the Creator, but they do nothing to cause us to grow spiritually. Let us delight in Him each day and celebrate Him with others on that one day out of seven, and keep church attendance as the priority on Sundays (or Saturdays).

T.L. – An excellent tool in the world’s attack on attending church is the “swing shift.” One of every 3 Sundays is literally working. The second Sunday one has just worked all night and is ready to sleep – not stay up to go to church. And by the time the 3rd Sunday comes around it is easy to be out of the habit of going.

C.L. – This concept is so important that it is one of the 10 Commandments. Jesus made it clear that the Sabbath was for made for man (not the other way around) so I feel there are many layers of truth concerning even ‘health” reasons to know God’s heart – He could start being very specific with us if we determine to hear and obey…Jesus IS our Sabbath – that’s another scriptural concept or implication – there’s probably a lot to this – more than we’ve acknowledged in this present day culture. Great topic. I need to meditate on this one more!

J.A. – After hearing a message about the Sabbath, I decided to avoid any shopping or eating out on Sundays. The difference was remarkable. No more struggling to find a parking space – no standing in long lines – no groceries to unpack and put away, etc. I remember when life was so much less stressful because everything was closed on Sunday. That day was reserved for church, dinner, watching your father fall asleep in his favorite chair and hanging out with family and friends. Now Wegmans and most restaurants do their biggest business on Sunday. How sad.

R.E. – For 20 years Bob & I were very strict about not working on Sunday – e.g. no homework or housework, no shopping, etc. (I got my entire master’s degree without ever once doing homework on a Sunday). And we were often given a hard time about it. There were a lot of put-downs, a lot of mockery, a lot of trying to force us to do something on Sunday that really didn’t need to be done then, as if we didn’t have the right to decide what would and wouldn’t be done in our own house. To our amazement, however, 99% of that was from Christians! Unbelievers usually (tho not always) acted like, “We don’t agree, but we’ll respect your beliefs.” Christians were far more likely to act offended. I sometimes got the impression that they assumed we looked down on them for not doing the same thing we did, no matter how hard we tried NOT to give that impression.

At one point, however, a Christian couple said, “This rule of yours causes a lot of tension at times. We’d like to respectfully request that you ask the Lord if you’re handling the Sabbath the right way.” And by searching the Scriptures, we did indeed realize that in our efforts to honor the Lord, we had become rather legalistic. Note that one respectful request did what 20 years of mockery could not do!

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