May the Word of the Lord be your help.

There are many different ways to translate the greeting from Boaz to his workers from Ruth 2:4, but I really do like this from John Gill’s exposition of the Bible where he references the Targum as “May the Word of the Lord be your help.” Wikipedia explains that the point of a targum is that “A targum was an originally spoken translation of the Hebrew Bible that a professional translator would give in the common language of the listeners when that was not Hebrew.” For those of us who aren’t fluent in Hebrew and don’t understand the original language, context and customs — preachers, expositions, Bible translations into our common language, and targums are very helpful to help us understand. In fact, our very lives are meant to be targums in a way — bringing the Word of God that is foreign and not understandable to a lost person close enough and familiar enough to them through is that they might encounter the Lord.

It was then that Boaz came back from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered him, “The Lord bless you!”
Ruth 2:4 AMP

Boaz greeted his workers in a familiar way that brought God glory and allowed them to in return give God glory as well. And he didn’t just give God glory in his words, but also in how he lived.

Truly, there is no help better for us than the Word of God. That is the truth for this life and for the eternal. We can find no better help than the Living Word of God being with us and helping us and guiding us through our day. I pray we know this, we believe this, and we live this in such a tangible way that it compels a response from others that also glorifies God today. Amen!

His Presence

Scripture: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7

This morning, as I read my morning devotional, I wondered and contemplated God’s presence in my life and my own presence and influence in the lives around me.

I am changing jobs and we just officially notified the rest of my team yesterday of my resignation in a wonderfully complimentary email from my supervisor. And I’ll get to attend a celebration dinner next week where six of us will be recognized for work “above and beyond” on a recent project. And many coworkers have reached out to me personally with thanks and well wishes. Each one of these is special and valuable to me because of the relationship that it represents. We have been in each other’s presence daily, serving each other — and even loving each other and building community together.

God goes with me everywhere that I travel. He has been with me at this job, and He will be with me at the next. I am not always aware of His presence and His influence, because many times I get “busy”, many times I get “distracted”, many times I get “tempted”, and many times I honestly just get “complacent”.

And I can get this way about the people around me as well. Sometimes I can “isolate”, instead of “going out and making disciples of the nations”. Sometimes I can get tired of doing heavy lifting and complain that I need help, rather than “bearing my cross daily for the glory of God”. Sometimes I can grumble about what others are or aren’t doing or what things need to change, rather than “being the example and leading the way”.

Honestly, it is only by the power of Christ in me that I don’t consistently get this wrong and make a complete wreck of things. And the goal isn’t just to say, “Yes, I see that I’ve fallen short in this way — thank you Jesus for forgiveness.” Undoubtedly, that is the most important thing to believe and receive when it comes to my own salvation.

But what about others?

What about those around me who need that same salvation?

What about others who are in need of hope and encouragement?

What about their seeing and knowing Good and loving Him and being blessed by His presence?

It doesn’t have to be some big, huge, religious display — listen to them, be there for them, lift the heavy work gratefully to show them the way, encourage them that they can do even more than they see you doing now, reach out to those who you may have lost touch with that might be isolated, seek out those who are in need and could benefit from your presence in their lives. I’m saying these things to myself right now — but also to you my friends. We will have an impact today because of our presence — and our exit from the lives of others will also have an impact because of our presence.

There are two questions:

1) Will our presence be a blessing and our departure be a loss, or the opposite — and why is that?

2) Will our presence clearly demonstrate our faith and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit at work within us and cause others to give God glory, or the opposite — and why is that?

If our life is not generating the type of fruit that we would like it to, maybe we need to truly repent, truly surrender our lives to the Lord, truly trust Him, truly enter into His presence, and be healed, restored, and renewed. This isn’t some once upon a time thing, but is an ongoing, active relationship with the Almighty Living God, made possible by the Blood of the Lamb.

Do we need to enter into His presence today?

Yes we do.


Hear & Obey

The life that pleases God is not a set of religious duties; it is to hear His voice and obey His word.

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

A friend from a church where we used to attend shared a 40 Days of Lent devotional with me via the YouVersion Bible app: 40 Daily Devotionals for Lent

Today’s devotional included this wonderful quote from Richard Foster that was such an encouraging, “Yes!” moment for me.

Yesterday, I had the day off of work, and Mia, my daughter, was out of school as well. So we spent the day together– playing with the puppies at our house — meeting Mandee, my wife, for Mia’ first ever lunch at Ike’s Korner Grill — visiting Milliken to feed the ducks, geese, and lone pigeon — going to Frankie’s Fun Park to play video games and drink Icees — and even grabbing a Caramel Coconut Cookie milkshake at Bruster’s. The rain kept us from enjoying what we thought would be Mia’s first time in the batting cages and from a trip to Carowinds that evening — but we changed directions and headed home to play Mario Party instead.

As my gas light came on, Mia said “There’s a Sphinx station right up here” and I immediately asked “How did you know that?” Because we were in a different town and in an area where I know that she has never been before. I knew that there was a Sphinx station ahead because 15 years ago I used to work in that area. But there was no way that she could have known that herself.

The situation offered the opportunity for me to tell her how I feel like the Holy Spirit whispers things to me that help me so many times in my life that might make people think that I’m wise, or insightful, or thoughtful, or talented — but I think that it is primarily that I’m willing to hear and obey. It is an odd thing to try and explain without sounding a bit crazy — so I just shared it with her and accepted that whether it helped her now or later in life, it is important for me to share with her regularly the differences between religious duties/traditions/dogma versus an active abiding in the Holy Spirit of God.

The same thing happened recently when we had our 1 year old Maltipoo puppy at the vet office after she was very sick, not eating, not drinking water, not urinating, and eventually throwing up blood. I had recently changed the thermostat in my wife’s vehicle. As careful as we had been to insure the dogs couldn’t get to any of the antifreeze, my immediate fear was that she had somehow gotten to some of it. As I lay hands on the little pup and prayed for healing — and then as I pray aloud and sobbing with my wife that God not let my foolishness be the reason for my little girl’s broken heart (if anything we’re to happen to her dog because of my actions) — I let peace wash over me. We took the pup to the vet and as we sat waiting for the blood test results, my wife said, “Maybe it’s pancreatitus?” And when the vet returned later and said Pancreatitus (not antifreeze poisoning) — I asked my wife how she knew that and she didn’t know.

Side Note: Even though the vet was wanting to hospitalize Olive for pancreatitus, we took her home and nursed her back to health, and she is now 100% recovered. Thank you Jesus!

I’m not going to make out like we’re perfect and holy and “more in tune with God” and that’s why we’re blessed. But I’m also not going to ignore the fact that even though we are imperfect — that there truly is something about the Blood of the Lamb washing us clean and allowing us the opportunity to hear and obey that brings us blessing that is beyond what I believe we would accomplish in our own.

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” 

Psalm 119:15

Lord, thank you for calling us by name. Thank you for speaking wisdom and truth to us. Please heal our hearts, open our ears to hear you, and open our eyes to see clearly that obedience truly is for our best. Help us to hear and obey. Thank you for the opportunity to sing your praise and give you the glory for every good gift. Amen.

Gang Rape and Incest?

There is no way to get around it, Genesis 19 is a tough chapter to walk through. It starts out with a very disturbing passage on the topic of a community where gang rape seems to be either normalized, or at least a systemic and common occurrence.

For most of us, not having the ability to refuse sexual advances from others would seem very odd. But even today, there are many people trapped in the sex trafficking trade that deal with rape and gang rape and who have no expectation that they would get to choose or refuse those who press hard against their door. No matter how foreign or uncomfortable this situation might be compared to our own sheltered experiences — or how painful it might be in comparison to personal experiences of molestation, rape, etc. — we mustn’t ignore that this type of exploitation and injustice carries an especially challenging burden.

For victims of these types of crimes against humanity, it is especially hard to not wish for vengeance for your oppressors instead of pursuing for their forgiveness. And we can see that even God’s patience with such wickedness (and great suffering caused to others others) has limits.

The culmination of this chapter, where they have been delivered from this place and culture of sexual slavery but how it clearly has an impact on how the children grow up normalized to the idea of incest is also hard to stomach for most of us living with first world problems.

To think that this is an outrageous and far fetched situation is to ignore what many poor, oppressed and victimized people deal with today. We who are reading daily Christian devotionals in the comfort of our homes and jobs may not have the particular threat of gang rape and incest pressing to break into our house. But lust, pornography, sexual perversions, adultery and all kinds of temptations would love to set the standards of our family closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah one generation at a time until sin is normalized and things like gang rape and incest aren’t even shocking or uncommon.

It is not so far fetched to imagine a society that starts out punishes those in court who refuse to glorify and normalize sexual perversion — moving (if unchecked) to the point of forcing acts of sexual perversion upon unwilling participants.

So we must remember the grace that our God has extended us, seek how we might help, encourage and introduce those enslaved to the trappings of sexual sin to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And we must not hesitate to run from such things when they endanger our family — especially when the Lord makes it clear that we must turn away without looking back.

Each of us has something that we need to lay down and never pick up again. Each of us has something small that we could surrender that might seem harmless at first but could grow beyond our control and wreck our lives if left to multiply like a cancer. Let’s recognize the warning in this passage, turn away from sin, turn to God before what we “put up with” has very real consequences for our children and those we love. Amen.

HaShem – the Name

In my last study notes, I was looking at the various names we see given, received and used for God by various individuals. This was initiated because of the difference in the names Hagar and Abraham had for God in Genesis chapters 16 & 17. But now we come to chapter 18, and we see the tetragammon יְהֹוָה in use to describe God in this chapter.

What is quite interesting about the tetragammon יְהֹוָה is that while modern Christian Bibles will simply translate it as LORD, this particular proper name for God is a bit unique. The original Hebrew for this proper name of God was just consonants — and didn’t even include vowels to help one understand from its being written how it might be properly pronounced.

And some Jewish translations wouldn’t even write or speak the tetragammon יְהֹוָה, for fear of violating the third commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain. They might use the word HaShem השם‎ instead as a less formal description, which simply means “the Name”. Common substitutions in Hebrew for this proper name are Adonai (“My Lord”) or Elohim (literally “gods” but treated as singular when meaning “God”) in prayer, or HaShem (“The Name”) in everyday speech.

You can get an idea of the use of HaShem from this Jewish translation to English that you might compare side by side with your own English translation that probably uses LORD:

While there is plenty of public disagreement today over whether יְהֹוָה should be pronounced “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” (or many other variations) — the original people given this name were so respectful of it that they hesitated to even consider writing or saying it. This is something that I fear many of us today might overlook or not rightly understand today — that deep awe and reverence towards the proper use and handling of the name of God. (In a world filled with “MF this” and “GD that” commonly tolerated in public, on television, and all over the Internet — it may be best that we don’t hear the tetragammon יְהֹוָה being dropped in pop music just to gain some notoriety and make a little more money.)

We will find all kinds of names in the Bible for God if we keep looking. And if you look to each person and their need, you will see God’s unique and personal name associated with them and their stories. And while it is good to know someone else’s story and get introduced to God through their faith secondhand — I would say that there is a greater value in knowing personally and closely the intimate and personal name that your betrothed would share with you firsthand.

There is no argument that the world is given only one name by which salvation is given, and only one name above all names — Jesus:

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 NLT

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”
Acts 4:12 AMP

But the world knows my wife by her name Mandee and me by my name Harold — but when we are away from the world and together in private, we have our pet names — we have our close, personal nicknames. Even with our close friends, we have our names for each other that are closer and more personal than our formal names.

When you rest in the Lord, when you spend sweet time in the garden with your teacher and your comforter, what sweet and personal name do you have for the Lord and who He is for you personally?

If you don’t know Him that close and personally yet, you can. Just slow down, step away from the staterooms and temptations of this world to draw close to Him, to seek Him. He is here with you, very close and not far away. May you know Him and He know you — that changes everything. Amen.

“Yahweh”, “El Roi”, “El Shaddai”, “Allah”, and “Jesus”

I’m reading in Genesis this morning, and two of the chapters are 16, which focuses on the birth of Ishmael, and 17, which focuses on Abram’s name change to Abraham. It is quite interesting, that right in the middle of Abram getting a different name, we see these differences in name when it comes to God.

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 NLT

The name described in Hagar’s story here is “El Roi“. And we see in chaper 17 that the name “El Shaddai” is given as a self description by God to Abram. In the story of Moses, the name given at the burning bush is the tetragammon, or “Yahweh“. And if we look at the lineage of Ishmael that leads to today’s Muslims, we find their use of the name “Allah“, and Christians have the name of “Jesus” that is given to them.

And many might say, “It’s all the same God and religion is just people fighting over what name to call God and how they can force their own beliefs onto others.” And I’ll agree that the defiled “religion” that most of us think of when we hear that word — it clearly has those problems and a well documented history of oppression, injustice, and wickedness — because man-made, defiled religion is a disguise of self-righteousness that unrighteous people put on in order to hide their own selfish agendas and motives. Yep, I said it, and you’re either agreeing with me right now or you’re offended — and I still love you either way.

“Religion” as we think of it in the “man-made” terms of this fallen world is very defiled. Regardless of which one you pick by name, it won’t take long to dig up a scandal, a horror, a war, an injustice, or a clearly ungodly happening that is directly and undeniably tied to that sect, denomination, world religion, etc.

But just because there are defiled religions, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something greater — an actual “pure religion” that isn’t just a constant war of “mine is right and yours is wrong”, nor is it a careless and thoughtless “abandoning of a singular truth for a multitude of lies”.

So what are we to make of all of these different names?

What are we to make of all of these religious people signing us up for their causes and agendas?

What are we to make of the hurt and pain that man-made, defiled religions have caused and continue to cause today?

Are we to tell them that they must cease and desist all religious activity — just to see it go underground and become more powerful and prevalent than it was when it was mainstream and highly available publicly?

Or are we to insist that they must reconcile their dogmatic differences so that everything fits into a non-offensive, one world order — else we cancel culture them out of business?

The best war that can be waged against defiled religions is not to make direct war with them — like Sun Tzu would say about making war, we must understand ourselves and our enemy. We can’t wage war their way by trying to enforce and enslave — or we ourselves will look up and find ourselves to be those self-same religious demons.

No, we choose pure religion — loving and serving one another, being in awe of Almighty God in His perfection and power, grateful towards Him for His grace and mercy, mindfully repentant and obedient towards His commands, and seeking to prepare ourselves for the after by this life.

Each of the names of God has something valuable to teach us — and the Christian has much they could learn from the Muslim and the Muslim much that can be learned from the Christian. Whether it was the Levites who could be close to the very presence of God, or the nation of Israel who could enter the courts, or even the Gentiles who could pass through the outer courtyards — all could be blessed by God.

I pray that those who are called to close intimacy with God, those who desire to enter in close with Him to praise Him and know Him personally will not fear. Christ has thrown wide the doors so that you might enter into a closer relationship with the Living God — not by your own self-righteousness (which is filthy by God’s standards) but by the Blood of the Lamb — the Lamb that God himself provided, just like with Abraham and Isaac — and just like the blessed waters that He provided for Hagar and Ishmael.

Regardless of the name we have known Him by up to this point, my encouragement is that we can draw closer — and even be called by name, and His name be revealed to us personally. Amen.

Humble Boldness

This passage in Ephesians is especially encouraging to contemplate after the punch in the teeth of strong conviction that hit me in yesterday’s passage from Job:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:1‭-‬6 NLT

The bulletpoints:

  • Be humble and gentle
  • Be patient with others, making allowance for their faults
  • Make all efforts to keep ourselves united in Spirit, bound together by peace

I love how this reminds us that boldness to proclaim the gospel is quite different from pride or self-righteousness. A follower in The Way, The Truth, and The Life can be humble and gentle themselves, yet bold about the gospel. We can bring forth into the light those things that we know that we have done ourselves that need to be confessed and repented personally. Even if what the gospel has to say about sin can be offensive to a world still enslaved by and serving that particular sin (conviction) — we can remain humble and gentle by offering the bent knee of our own repentance and open arms of the grace of the gospel!

We should not expect others to be perfect or consider ourselves better or worse than others, but we should consider ourselves equal at the foot of the cross. When we proclaim the gospel and it convicts our own heart towards repentance, we shouldn’t be surprised that it would convict others towards repentance. We shouldn’t be surprised that others’ rugs have dirt swept under them because we know that ours has the same. So we should be bold in the truth yet generous with forgiveness — both towards ourselves and towards others.

This sword of the Word of God is meant to be sharp and precise — but that is most true when we reveal what the Word has to say about sin and about grace, when we point that sword at ourselves, and when we allow others to hear and see the surgery that it can do upon a heart and a life.

If we are seeking to draw close to God, offense can try to work its way between us to divide us. So when a message hits me square in the teeth like Job hit me yesterday, I need to pay special attention — there is surgery that needs to be done.

Or when a preacher’s message hits that uncomfortable and protected area of my life — my carnal man wants to initially react in a way that protects my ego, that defends the sun, that justifies my continued rebellion, and that gaslights my own brain into shooting the messenger instead of heading the warning — but the Holy Spirit will whisper to me and offer me grace, peace, and life.

I remind myself, “Do not be offensive ourselves, but do not be afraid of speaking the offense of the gospel!”

If I complain and oppose the gospel — a fool would think he is just opposing just the preacher and the religion — while a wise man would see he is actually opposing the Living God, and would repent.

Lord, forgive me for so many times that I have been afraid to speak the offense of the gospel — even while I have been bold and proud in myself and all of my glorifying talk about the things of the world. Lord, you are strong enough to flip this on its head and by the power of your Holy Spirit turn hellbound fools into saints seated in heavenly places. In our weaknesses, we trust in you to do your work and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Let the Thunder Roll

I remember Billy Graham’s preaching. The booming voice, the convicting message, the call to repentance and faith — and this passage in Job immediately reminded me of it:

Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty. Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.

Job 40:9‭-‬14 NLT

And I don’t give credit to Billy Graham the man for the strength in his preaching, but I would say that the strength that saved him and that powered his preaching was from God — by way of the Holy Spirit in him.

I wonder if we would be bold enough to let our voices boom with the shocking message of the gospel?

I wonder if we would give vent to our anger against sin and hypocrisy and wickedness when we see it consuming the church from within and stealing from the people and blaspheming the name of God in the eyes of unbelievers?

When “church people” mock and ridicule others for their true, genuine, (even peculiar) worship and make it clear that this is not the church for them — will the Holy Spirit within us stir up and humiliate the proud and bury them in the dust?

When “church people” gossip and grumble with everything said about the church but praise and honor everything said about the world — will the Holy Spirit within us stir up and humiliate the proud and bury them in the dust?

I wonder how often we choose instead to be silent rather than offend others?

I wonder how often we would rather let God puke them out of His mouth as lukewarm and not truly His — rather than call for repentance and risk them turning away from us just like they have turned away from God?

I wonder how often we are enticed by our own temptations and let our own feelings, opinions and desires speak to us loudly and justify our wickedness and refusal of God — instead of allowing the Word of God and the Spirit of God to thunder loudly inside of us to deliver us from our own sin?

Do we truly believe what God says in His Word?

Do we have faith in the God of the Bible, or have we traded Him for a “Daddy in the Clouds” that we have made in our own image to our own liking?

One of these perspectives would have God praising us, saying “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

Lord, help us.

A reminder from Billy Graham:

The law?

The law doesn’t exist for us to live up to in order to please God — the law exists to keep us from harming ourselves and others.

If our theology is about being good enough for God, we are probably departed from the narrow path of the gospel and veered into the pit of self- righteousness.

If our theology allows us to hate God’s Word, make fun of those who worship Him, and live in continued rebellion against His will and His law, we are probably departed from the narrow path of the gospel and veered into the wide path of destruction and into luke-warm “Christianity” that will be puked out of His mouth and turned away as “I never knew you”.

If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans.

Job 35:6‭-‬8 NLT

We cannot be “good enough” to please God. But we can be sinful enough to be far from Him or self-righteous enough to be a stench in His nostrils.

It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.

Isaiah 59:2 NLT

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NLT

Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.

Isaiah 65:5 NLT

“I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

Amos 5:21‭-‬24 NLT

It isn’t by the law or by religious activity and traditions that we please God, but only by a humble and contrite spirit that comes through faith.

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol. I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.”

Isaiah 66:2‭-‬4 NLT

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 NLT

So we must repent.

We must humble ourselves before God.

We must see where we have turned away from His good advice and helpful wisdom to go out own way into destruction.

We must decide to trust His Word and His law and His Word and His people as precious.

We must have faith that He knows best.

We must be willing to recognize and admit our own shortcomings and rebellion as harmful to ourselves and others.

We must decide to trust God, to believe Him.


We must recognize that we have lied to ourselves in convincing ourselves why it would be better to go out own way instead of God’s way.

Shabbat Shalom

There is something about a hard work week that leaves me crashing into the arms of the weekend and truly appreciating the rest. I heard a lecturer recently speak on “devaluing the currency of success” where he spoke about the concept that “if everything is made equally valuable, then nothing is truly valuable”. There is a parallel there that made me understand the need for a “special day” — not for meeting some kind of legal obligation to meet God’s requirements — but to establish that wonderful feeling of “returning home” of “peace and rest” after a week’s hard work.

When Jews say “Shabbat shalom – Sabbath peace” to family and friends after a draining work week, we mean far more than “have a peaceful and restful day.” What we are really saying is: May you be restored to wholeness on the blessed Sabbath!

It seems that our life as a Christian is meant to be hard and dedicated work that ends with us totally spent, falling into the peace and rest of our Savior — whether we are talking about a single day and night, a week and sabbath, a year and lent, or an earthly life and heaven.

Our normal, hard work — out there in the midst of the world as ambassadors of the Holy Spirit — is meant to drive us to that point where we must be restored to wholeness — where our cup must be refilled to overflowing.

In fact, if we are just “playing it safe” or “testing in our complacency”, we will find ourselves devaluing these times of special rest and restoration — because we have made them all to be the same by resting when we should have been working.

My encouragement is to not fear the exhaustion, to not fear the spent nature of the work at hand, to make no excuse that we might come to the church every single week rushing to that altar time after time again to be washed, to be filled, to be restored yet again.

I have heard said that the close we come to God, the more we can see our own sin. So shouldn’t it be much more than the “I want to give my life to Jesus” folks rushing the altar each and every week? Shouldn’t it be just as much (and even moreso!) the “old saints” and “the elders” and the church leadership falling on their faces repenting openly and publicly of even the smallest sin or weakness and giving God glory?!!!

And as we approach the season of Lent — might we consider the sweat rest of turning off Social Media, turning off divisive News Media, maybe even putting our phones and devices away for a time period to give ourselves time to rest and be restored by the peace of disconnection from the world and a return to God.

May our work in this life have us longing for that final Shabbat Shalom, even as we rest in Him each and every day. Amen.