When Following Him Looks Different…

Over the years, I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of people who were shunned for their marriage issues, the smell of smoke, food choices, Sabbath activities, church attire, accidents, and cover-ups never to return again. From a church, a Bible study, a family get together, a school. Feeling unloved, judged, unacceptable, rejected….the polar opposite of how Jesus would have treated them.

Here are a few questions that come to mind…How do you love your neighbor? What about the one who believes differently than you? Do you believe Jesus died for them? Do you believe your rules will save you? Do you believe Jesus wants you both? Do you think your actions or lack thereof will save you? Are you leaning into Jesus and His love for others?

In our church, when we hear the word “obedience” we (I) tend to immediately think of the Sabbath. Like anyone who is not honoring the seventh day Sabbath is being disobedient to God. What if they find Jesus elsewhere? What about judging that person? Isn’t that disobedient? What if God is calling you to forgive and you just refuse? What if you covet someone’s marriage or singleness? Or He’s calling you to love your enemies and you just can’t go there…Isn’t that disobedient? We ALL fall short (Romans 3:23), and there’s no shortage of ways to do it.

Just like we may judge someone by the color of their skin, clothes, neighborhood, food choices, jewelry, or even hairstyle, we judge by the church they attend. I met the love of Jesus outside of my home church and have returned to share what I learned from those who do not go there. Praise His name, since I’ve returned, I’ve found more and more people hungry for this love.

We all need more Jesus.

I love the Sabbath, I came back for it. But, do we worship the Sabbath or do we worship Him? As humans, we tend to worship creations over the Creator. We want something tangible to hang on to. Like our children, marriages, friends, careers, accomplishments, even doctrine. Anything to feel like we’ve got what we need. I have been guilty of this for sure. What we need most is Jesus. The rest are gifts given BY Him to raise, enjoy, love, and study, but not to exalt higher than their Creator.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath day was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Mark 2:27-28 (NIRV)

I feel like if He was sitting in my living room, He would say “following Me doesn’t mean doing things the way they’ve always been done, just because”. There are so many Adventists who worship the day that sets us apart over the One who died to do so. I think this hurts His heart. I can also hear Him saying, “I don’t want you worshipping the day I made any more than the animals I made. Worship the One who made them.” When Jesus comes first, how we treat and love others (all others) is evident. I mean, how would Jesus treat that particular person?

Would you flat refuse to set foot in church on a Sunday to worship our God in heaven with others? If so, what does that mean? Who are YOU worshipping? Do you think Jesus would be more likely to flip tables over in a church of people worshipping on the “wrong day” or people worshipping the day over Him? He knows our hearts and why we do what we do. Think about how public worship is an honor and a privilege that many in this world aren’t allowed to do on ANY day…

On my death bed, as much as I hope my girls are ingrained with a reverence and knowledge of the Sabbath, my ultimate goal is that they find and cling to Jesus for themselves. No matter how, why, or where they find Him, my deepest desire is that they do. God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is bigger.

May they sense the joy, freedom, and strength in Christ over the shame, fear, and insecurity of ANY religion that lacks unconditional love. Because, God IS love. In the last days, God will call His people out. Leave conviction to the One they have a relationship with. If that relationship is solid, they will hear His voice.

John 10:27-30 says  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.The Father and I are one.”

I claim this! I pray personal relationship into my girls’ lives, that is my deepest desire, because when that’s in place, they WILL hear His voice and no one can snatch them from His hand. No one. Nothing.

Search my heart, Lord. Correct me where I’m wrong and may my heart be and stay ever closer to You.

 

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It is Enough

enough

Jesus is our example and He kept the commandments. All of them…..Perfectly. In His heart and with His heart. He shared how hating one’s brother is the same as murdering him in the heart. He taught how lusting is the same as adultery in the heart.

He also kept the seventh-day Sabbath perfectly. As only He could. He often rebuked the Pharisees for their hearts over it. We read about Him doing that more than anything else regarding the Sabbath day.  Their rules took precedence over their heart for God and others. He had multiple issues with inconsistencies and hardened hearts regarding the Sabbath. My own convictions on the Sabbath have been challenged lately. What is ok? What is not? Why or why not?

Ultimately, it comes down to what Jesus asks of us. If your heart leads you to do or not do something out of your love for God, praise His name. I have nothing but respect for people who keep the Sabbath differently than me. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it has made me question my own convictions and personal relationship with my Creator. The One who created me and the Sabbath. (Genesis 2:3) It has. So much so, that the anxiety led to a three hour prayer session with a friend. Asking for answers. Asking for God’s guidance and direction in this area.

As a child, I was told to keep certain rules on the Sabbath without the heart or understanding behind it. They changed depending on where we were, who was around, or who’s house I was at. It led to so much confusion and even then I remember wondering if God wondered why so much effort was placed on outward actions rather than what was going on inside of us. Only God knows our hearts and why we do what we do.

My heart accepts, honors, and remembers the Sabbath day as holy and God’s special day. I could never please everyone with what I choose to do or not do and that bothers me greatly being the pleaser that I am, so I will rest in the fact that God told me “it is enough”. He knows that I am the type of person that would feel even going the extreme conservative route would never be enough. I could never do enough. I would lose every ounce of rest in my soul trying to please Him with my actions. I just need Him and to rest in His love for me.

Do I think the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord our God? (Exodus 20:9) Yes. Do I think that we should remember it and keep it holy in our hearts? Yes. What does that mean as far as external actions? That is between you and God. Me and God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

I’m pretty sure we could put twenty Sabbath keepers in a room and there would be twenty different personal convictions on what activities are okay, what’s not, and why. The judgment associated with how it’s kept pangs me deeply. It obviously panged Jesus too.

When I struggle with this I can feel Him ask me the question: “Where is your hope?” “Is your hope in the Sabbath?” “Is your hope in perfection?” “Or, is your hope in Me?”

In my opinion, if we base our relationship with God solely on keeping the Sabbath and how to keep it, a lot gets missed.

What about those who haven’t or don’t? The Christians who go into enemy territory. Just by proclaiming Christ they put their lives at risk and many die. The Christians who’s hearts are all in and willing to prove it. Their motives are pure before God. The truth they want to proclaim with all their heart, mind, and soul is the truth that Jesus died for us and is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life. They are brave. They are warriors. They give their all for Jesus. Which is what I want to do.

What is more important to you? The truth of the gospel? Or the truth of the Sabbath? I believe both are truth. But, to me personally, the truth that Jesus died for us should come first. Then, when we keep the Sabbath (or any of the commandments) out of love and reverence for the One who died for us, we are keeping it in the “right” way, whatever that may entail. Out of love and because of love. The Love that gave His all to live with us forever.

I would rather my husband remain faithful to me because he loves me, not just because he’s “supposed” to. We can never keep the law perfectly, Jesus pointed that out. Because of our sinful tendencies, we lust, we hate, we dishonor, we all fall short. Thank God for His gracious forgiveness.

Because of His love for me, I WANT to keep all of His commandments in my heart. I live to please Jesus and He says, for me, it’s enough and to rest in Him. I believe that each commandment (new and old testament) is given for a purpose, keeps us dependent on the blood of Jesus, and points our lives to God’s will for us. I also believe God searches our hearts. And, wants them most of all.