We don't like to think about death. It makes us uncomfortable. As a kid I didn't like graveyards, they creeped me out. Now, part of my job is to go to graveyards and help with funerals...ironic, right?
But death is part of life. We all die, eventually. In fact, once we die, no matter if you are buried or cremated, you eventually become a pile of dust (ashes). Given enough time, your body will break down into the same thing that it was made from, dust.
Remember that in Genesis 2, God formed Adam (which literally means 'dirt') from the dust. We are made from dust and eventually that is what we turn back into. This is why you often hear the phrases "ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
The good news, for those who have put our trust in Christ, is that our bodies were never intended to last. We are told by Paul that our physical bodies are like a tent and eventually wear out. Some last a bit longer than others; but all earthly bodies eventually wear out. But we are promised heavenly ones that will last forever. No more dust, no more decay.
Death is inevitable; but our hope is in one who holds the keys to the kingdom of life everlasting.
God gave the 10 commandments to the people of God so that they would know what is good and what is bad. They needed a frame of reference of how to live and what was acceptable behavior. They needed to know what God's expectations of them were.
We believe that these commandments apply to us today. We have actually used them to help make our own laws here in the USA. We don't allow murder or stealing...partly because they are in the 10 commandments.
But there is one commandment we like to ignore. We don't like it, it's annoying and we find it old fashioned and so we just don't follow it. In fact, when people try to remind us about this commandment we tend to insult them and call them names. Can you guess which one I'm talking about? The Sabbath.
God commanded us to follow the Sabbath. It was not a suggestion. It was a commandment. And it wasn't one of the 630 commandments in the Old Testament; it was one of the 10 commandments. It's a biggie. And yet, how many of us actually take regular times of rest and worship? How many of us set aside time each week to do this? Very few. Almost none. And if I ever challenge someone to take Sabbath, they balk. They tell me how important they are or how busy they are. And if I tell them that I do take Sabbath...they call me lazy. I even had someone tell me once that the devil doesn't take a day off; so neither should I. I told them they need a better role model because God did take a day off and so should they.
Sabbath is good. Rest is healthy. God commanded it and you should do it. Not just on vacation. Not just once you burn out. You should do it often. You should do it weekly. It's a commandment. They aren't optional. Do you trust God enough to stop your human effort and believe that He will still provide? Can you learn to be still?
In Joshua 3, the people of God are finally ready to go into the promised land. To give a bit of context let's remember that, in order to get to this moment, they had to endure slavery, barely escape with their lives, wander in the desert for 40 years and now finally they have reached the long awaited moment...and yet; one more barrier remains; the Jordan River. Now, God has parted water for them before of course. But that was a sea, this is a raging river. There is no bridge, there are no boats...how will they cross?
And to add to the stress, God does not stop the river first. He makes them wait.
Joshua tells them this, "Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river." They actually have to go and STAND in the river before the water will stop. This is actually where we get our expression "get your feet wet" because in order to make the river stop they have to be willing to look foolish, to put themselves out there and take a step of faith.
My question for you today is...are you stepping out in faith? Are you really? Where? How? When was the last time? When did you actually put yourself out there? When did you do something that you were willing to trust God for? When did you do something or say something or risk something where you NEEDED God to come through for you?
In truth, we often live our lives on our own power and our own strength. We talk about faith and quote the Bible; but we do very little that requires real faith.
So, are you willing to get your feet wet? Are you willing to step out and trust God? When? Where?
I have been reading through a wonderful book lately aptly titled, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”. It was written by Pastor John Mark Comer. The premise of the book is to urge followers of Christ to—well—ruthlessly eliminate hurry from their lives. I couldn’t even count the number of times in my life that my hurried state has prevented me from living the way I have been called to live.
So often, we talk about following Christ as his followers. We claim that the best way to live is in Jesus’ footsteps, learning from the master and doing what He did—but how many of us actually want the lifestyle that Jesus had? My mind is brought to the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
For the rich young ruler, monetary possessions are what prevented him from following Jesus. I am willing to assume that many of us are like him—we want to follow Jesus…but something is in the way. Something is stopping us from assuming the lifestyle of the master.
Jesus lived a slow-paced life. He wasn’t in a hurry. He was certainly busy, but not in a hurry. He took his time and spoke with people, walking from town to town and healing the sick, calling on sinners to repent—and He asks that we do the same. For many of us, the summer (especially July and August) are the busiest times of the year. I would like to encourage all of you (myself included) to remember to slow down and actually spend time with God. Don’t live your life in a rush, and if you get the chance, pick up the book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.” It will change how you follow Jesus for the better.