In a recent post - Time-o-Meter - I wrote about how our use of time reveals what is dear to our hearts. Something interesting happened on the heels of that post...
Sunday mornings at Grace, Brother Billy is preaching through the book of Exodus. This past Sunday, only days after the Time-o-Meter post, Brother Billy preached on Exodus 34:18-28, 35:1-3. His sermon title? Staying in Covenant Love. His emphasis? How God's redeemed must be diligent to stay in love with God. God, in His wisdom, commanded His people to gather corporately, regularly, to worship and enjoy Him. God didn't ordain the Sabbath for His own benefit...but for ours. Our loving Father knows we need physical and spiritual rest. He also knows we need a consistent, designated time to pause from our daily concerns and activities and focus as a body on delighting in and enjoying Him.
It's interesting to note that in this Exodus passage, God's people are commanded to celebrate His presence, goodness, and provision at times that seem less-than-ideal. Leave the harvest standing in the field to take time off to worship? Hasn't God ever heard the saying, "Make hay while the sun shines"? Leave our homes, farms (businesses), and crops (jobs) vulnerable and neglected, to go worship? The worship God commands clearly requires believers to demonstrate a practical faith in God's protection and provision...no easy task!
I have often read and heard it said that in order for a couple to maintain a healthy marriage, they must spend regular time together without the distractions of work, children, etc. This has to be a mutually-understood priority. Steve and I haven't always been consistent in setting aside time for just the two of us. But I do know that seasons when we reserved and guarded time for each other - even if it was just an hour every Friday evening at the local coffee shop - our marriage was sweeter and felt stronger, more stable. Date-night is like some kind of love maintenance.
As Billy exposited the passage Sunday, it occurred to me that God, in His goodness and immeasurable love for us, has Himself ordained - even commanded - weekly "dates" to maintain our covenant relationship with Him. He knows that our love quickly grows cool, that our affections are prone to wander. We would likely want to skip weekly time in worship for the pre-game show, or overtime pay, or an extra hour of sleep, unwittingly neglecting the love relationship we have with our Lord. God protects that time by making it a priority - He commands us to meet with Him.
God commands us to enter into His holy rest because He loves us and knows what is best for us. Billy asked us, "How do you rank this commandment (to observe the Sabbath) among the other nine?" Then he asked, "How does God rank it?" This is so important to God that He ranks it before Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not bear false witness,... That's how much He loves us. Incredible.
So, do we look forward to Sunday morning like a much-anticipated meeting with our beloved? (I remember as a teenager waiting for Steve to pick me up for an outting to the movies, listening anxiously for the sound of tires on gravel. The time before he arrived seemed interminable; the time together, always too brief.) Are we eager to revel in the presence of God as we gather to worship? Is this the highlight of our week?
Sunday's sermon communicated this to me: According to God's "time-o-meter," He loves His children. I pray for the grace to use every opportunity to nuture this covenant love and for the commitment to protect and defend it. I pray that in response to God's love for me, my love for Him will grow ever sweeter, ever deeper.
Tim Challies had an excellent post recently on making the most of Sunday morning - check it out here.
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