A year ago, my husband and I committed to a weekly Sabbath rest day. At the time, we felt discontent with life (which had become consumed with work) and disconnected from each other. In an attempt to rearrange our priorities, we declared Sunday our “no work day.”
This title summed up the extent of our knowledge about observing the Sabbath. Yet, as we obediently set aside our work every Sunday, God began showing me that the Sabbath is about so much more than not working one day a week.
In Genesis 2, God created the first Sabbath day:
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)
From these verses, God gives us two important lessons about the Sabbath.
1. The Sabbath is a holy day.
Holy, means to be set apart as sacred. The Sabbath is different from all other days; on it we are to set aside our normal routine and dedicate our time to God.
2. The Sabbath is a day for enjoying God’s presence.
Have you ever wondered why God rested on the seventh day? The all mighty God did not in need rest, He simply desired time to sit and enjoy his creation. I imagine God walking with Adam on that first Sabbath; “Look at this! Oh and this! I made it all for you! Come, enjoy it with me.”
From this first Sabbath, one thing becomes abundantly clear; God created the Sabbath for our good. Jesus confirms this when he tells the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 ESV).
God created us. He knows our soul needs the rest, refreshment, and fulfillment, which only comes from spending time in His presence. Therefore, the Sabbath is a gift from God. When we choose to accept His gift, we not only honor God, but submit to Him as our creator who knows what is best for us.
If taking a Sabbath day is new to you, here are some practical ideas for keeping the Sabbath holy.
10 Ways to Keep the Sabbath Holy
1. Do not work.
If a work event comes up on the Sabbath, you decline. If you don’t get all your work done before the Sabbath, you plan for an early morning the next day. When thoughts about work pop into your head, promise yourself you will deal with it tomorrow (if you need to, write a quick note so you won’t forget about it). By not working on the Sabbath, you are saying, “God is more important than my job.”
2. No TV.
Remember the Sabbath is about being with God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often experience God’s presence while watching Television.
3. No social media.
Similar to TV, social media is a distraction from God. Cutting out these types of distractions will go a long way in keeping your Sabbath day holy.
4. Only listen to Christian music.
Setting your music to Christian radio is like setting the mood for the day. It draws you into God’s presence and keeps you focused on His goodness.
5. Spend extra time reading your Bible and praying.
One of the best ways to build a relationship with God is through direct communication with Him. Be intentional about seeking more time to talk with and learn from God.
6. Have a family Bible study time.
Read a devotional or passage of scripture as a family. Spend time discussing what you read and then pray for each other.
7. No house work.
Whether it’s cleaning the bathrooms, doing laundry, or mowing the lawn, house work never ends! So do yourself a favor and ignore it one day a week. (If you need some convincing, just remember the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42; chose what is better!)
8. Spend time outside enjoying God’s creation.
God created this whole world for our benefit! This is why many people experience God more intimately while in nature. So take a walk, play in the park, or climb a mountain and ask God to reveal himself to you through His creation.
9. Have family worship time.
Gather the family together and get creative. Worship God through, song, dance, art, or storytelling.
10. Invite friends over for fellowship.
A Sabbath day does not need to be a day of isolation. Get together with your brothers and sisters in Christ and spend time encouraging each other in the Lord.
Remember, these are just ideas to get you started and you do not need to implement them all. I recommend prayerfully considering how God would like you to spend your Sabbath day, and follow His guidance above all else.
Even though I spent the last year taking a Sabbath rest day, I am far from perfect in this discipline. Some weeks still get away from us and Sunday fills with everything we didn’t get to sooner. Therefore, I leave you with these words of wisdom from Matthew Henry:
“The Sabbath is a sacred and Divine institution; a privilege and benefit, not a task and drudgery. God never designed it to be a burden to us, therefore we must not make it so to ourselves. The Sabbath was instituted for the good of mankind, as living in society, having many wants and troubles, preparing for a state of happiness or misery. Man was not made for the Sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was he commanded to keep it outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it, is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.”
Kira Bridges is pursuing joy by seeking the life God intended for us. She blogs at Joy Pursued, sharing lessons learned and resources to help women draw close to God and experience His joy. Living in the sunny part of Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two dogs; Kira believes living with joy is a lifelong journey and would love for you to join her. You can hang out with her on Facebook, and Instagram.