8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 You shall labor six days, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11 for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.
- Exodus 20:8-11 (WEB)
I hear it all the time from Christian leaders, “I'm so tired!” Pastors and lay people alike, have much to do. The month of July is a busy time in Franklin, starting with the 4th of July celebration , to Vacation Bible School, ending with the FASA Songfest. People have many things to do today and it wears us out. Yet God has an answer, the Sabbath. We MUST take time each week to rest, this is God's command. It is not always easy to find time to just rest, but God knows what is best for each of us and a day of real rest will help our body, mind and spirit. Even Jesus needed to take time to rest (Mark 6:31), so should we.
41 Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:41-42 (WEB)
As I write this blog, 2019 Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference is less then a week away. I was looking over the agenda and legislative items and I think most of those items are so routine. Yes, we have some important items about bringing more people into the church, especially the youth, and this year election of delegates for the 2020 General Conference., yet budgets and trustee matters seem so less important.
We can, like Martha, get so caught up in the business of the church that we can forget about why we are here, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Jesus tells her, and us, that we can be troubled by many things, yet we must never forget to listen and learn from Christ. I hope that all of us can take time this annual conference and every day, from the things that make us anxious and troubled and have the “good part:” listening to our lord Jesus Christ.
7 He said to them, “It isn’t for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
9 When he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing, 11 who also said, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? [“] - Acts 1:7-11a (WEB)
We many times like to remember the “Good Old Days.”. High School reunions and family gatherings also bring out the old stories. Now I do believe that we need to remember the stories and events of yesteryear (I do read a lot of history), but the problem is if we want to live in the past and not today.
The people of Galilee were looking up, probably remembering the good times, with Jesus. It was the “two men” in white, that reminded them that Jesus told them to “witness to me” throughout the world. What are you doing, looking up for Jesus to return and remembering the “good old days”, or going out into the world as a witness to the power and love of Christ.
15 But when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a savior for them - Judges 3:15a (WEB)
I have been reading the Book of Judges, as part of my daily scripture readings, and I noticed a pattern in the relationship of Israel with God. First, the people “did that which was evil.” Second, God sends some enemy against them, like the Ammmonites or the Amalekites. Third, the people of Israel cry for help, God hears the Israelites cry for help to God. And finally, God sends some one like Deborah, Gideon, or Samson to lead them.
Over and over, the pattern repeats itself, the people sin, their are punished, they cry for repentance, and God saves them. God always sent someone to save them. God loved them and God was willing to forgive them.
Jesus tells us that we should forgive each other “... seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22, WEB). If we are to do this, think how many times God is willing to forgive each of us. God heard our pleas and sent His Son Jesus, to save us. What a great God we worship, that if we keep failing and repenting, we have a God that still loves us and a God that still saves, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
He [Jesus] said to them, “Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” - Mark 4:40 (WEB)
As I write this, General Conference 2019 is over. The conference to unite the United Methodist Church seems to have divided us even more. From the priority votes, it looks like to me that we were much more interested in our pensions and property, than finding a way to live together as brothers and sisters in Christ (I maybe too hard on the delegates). I do not know what is going to happen within the denomination, but I do know that God is in control. As the storms of life surround us, we do not need to be afraid, we need the faith that God is there for each of us. I do not know what the future of the United Methodist Church is, but I do know that God's Church will continue on and that the love proclaimed by Jesus will continued to be proclaimed throughout the world.