There is coming a time when people will delight in joyful, uplifting conversation, forsaking their own thoughts, studying and learning God’s mind with humble attitudes and the power of His Holy Spirit. There is coming a time when people will rest from sin and worldly pursuits, breaking free from human nature, enjoying true freedom, and exploring the thrilling depths of God’s Word and obedience to the way that produces the peace, joy and excitement that the human heart longs for, all in a peaceful and beautiful environment.
And it’s less than seven days away.
Although these attitudes and environs will indeed cover the entire Earth in the wonderful World Tomorrow, they are already here for those who keep God’s Sabbath today!
In Genesis 1 and 2, we read that less than a day after He created the wonderful intricacies and magnificent potential of the human mind and personality, God made a very special day. He sanctified this time period for a special and holy purpose (Genesis 2:2-3) to consistently rejuvenate mankind—physically, mentally and spiritually.
In fact, the same God who created that special day tells us later, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). That’s right, this upcoming Sabbath is a day especially for you and your family!
God’s precious Sabbath day contains a fantastic vision—back to the momentous creation week, and forward to the marvelous Millennium. In 2 Peter 3:8, the Apostle Peter writes, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God’s tremendous Sabbath day contains an inspiration that stretches our very minds to see time and life the way our Creator does!
The Sabbath is also a test to show God how much we yearn for His coming Kingdom. It is an opportunity to prove to God (and improve) our understanding, obedience and will to be in the Kingdom that His Sabbath day represents. No matter what this week has been like, this Sabbath is an opportunity to rise above it!
The Sabbath pictures the coming millennial rest from sin. Today, it frees God’s people from the chains of Satan, society, even self. It enables us to become physically rejuvenated and spiritually revitalized, and to fellowship with others of like mind. It represents freedom from worldly distractions—freedom from negative attitudes, freedom from lies and doubts, freedom to worship a God who loves us and wants to draw close to us! For those who keep it the way our Creator intended, it is a thrilling, mind-sharpening, intriguing, emotional, happy day!
So, how can you bring that vibrant reality into your home this Sabbath? God shows us!
How to Rejoice in God’s Sabbath
Here are some ways to have a meaningful, and refreshing Sabbath this week.
Six days shall you labor.
The first thing our Creator commands us to do in order to have a meaningful Sabbath is to work hard all week (Exodus 20:9-11). He created the human body and mind to benefit the most not only when it rests once every seven days, but also when it does so on the heels of a busy and productive work week.
Don’t forget the preparation day.
Every day of the week begins at sunset and has an evening and morning portion, according to God’s original design (Genesis 1:31). In order to devote the entire Sabbath to worshiping God, we have one full “preparation day” at our disposal: Friday (Exodus 16:4-5 records an ancient example). We should do our best to wrap up loose ends, tidy our homes, perform heavy cooking and prepare for the Sabbath all on Friday, beginning our planning at sundown on Thursday when necessary. This removes distractions and builds our anticipation for when the Friday sun finally sinks below the horizon.
Savor Friday night.
Since each day has an evening portion and a morning portion, it is a real tragedy to fumble our way through the entire beginning of God’s special day, taking care of things we should have done on the preparation day. Instead, take care of material distractions well ahead of time, and focus instead on enjoying a special meal for Friday evening with a nice tablecloth, fine dinnerware and perhaps even some candles to remind yourself and your family that tonight is special!
Drop your week’s mental baggage at the door, and focus on Sabbath topics over dinner: our Creator, His creation, His wonderful work, the Bible, the newest Church publication, last week’s sermon, and so forth. After quickly cleaning up after dinner, families might relax with a family Bible study or a Bible trivia game, or married couples might study their Bibles together, enjoying spiritual conversation about the things that really matter before getting a good night’s rest.
Fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ first.
God’s Sabbath is about spiritual and physical renewal, but don’t allow yourself to sleep in too late. You’ve anticipated and prepared for this day; don’t let it slip by! Use the Sabbath morning to relish extra study and prayer time. Don’t forget that your children (those who are mature enough) will need help with this—it is all too easy to just sleep in.
In your prayers, pray fervently that God will inspire this Sabbath’s sermon for you. Delve into extra study in order to listen to God. These tools will also help you enter the right frame of mind to receive the messages God is preparing for you.
Use the ride.
Since many of God’s people spend several hours traveling to and from services, how we spend our time in the car could greatly help or greatly hurt our Sabbath-keeping. Use this opportunity to read Church literature either to yourself or aloud, or try to obtain and listen to recordings of Mr. Armstrong’s sermons, perhaps interspersing Philadelphia Singers or Young Ambassadors songs.
Children and teens might especially enjoy using this time to review—or create—Bible trivia cards, Scripture flash cards, or chapter outlines of the Bible together with their parents. This would also be the perfect opportunity to read aloud from the Bible Story series or the Bible itself, or to pass around Mystery of the Ages , Malachi’s Message or another booklet for everyone—except the driver!—to take turns reading aloud.
But perhaps the best way to use this time is to put God’s Word into action in your child’s life. Find out what your children have been thinking about, what they’re going through, what problems they might be having, and show them how the Bible contains the answers! If it takes a little grease to get the wheels turning, try reading Proverbs and asking if any of the verses you read sound familiar to your teen. Since Proverbs covers, in principle, almost every situation a young person could possibly face, odds are you won’t get far before a healthy and helpful spiritual conversation breaks out.
Children—ask your parents what the Bible says about being popular, standing up for what you believe in, having fun, making friends, or whatever has been on your mind the most this week. If you can’t remember exactly why you keep the Sabbath instead of Sunday, or why you don’t eat pork, pipe up and ask! Get to know your parents, too: “What was it like to grow up in the world?” “How did you feel when the Church began to change?” “What made us come into the pcg?” “What was Mr. Armstrong like?”
In Leviticus 23, God describes His weekly and annual sabbaths as holy gatherings of His people. Where possible, you and your family are commanded to attend services with called-out members of God’s Church. Acts 8:31 and Ephesians 4:11-12 show us that God speaks to us through His ministry. You know what it is like to hear a sermon that seemed prepared only for you—and not by any man, but by God. That kind of connection is almost impossible to put into words, but we have all felt it. But did you know that we can and should experience that awesome miracle every week? Our part in bringing that to pass is faith in God.
Remember, you prayed fervently for your Father to inspire and uplift and correct and teach you on His Sabbath. Now that the minister—one of God’s main tools for answering that prayer—has begun to speak, do you find yourself tuning out? Or do you have faith that God is actually in the process of answering your prayers? Do your part to beseech God and prepare for His Sabbath service, then know in faith that what is given this Sabbath is exactly what you need as a major part of your spiritual diet for next week! Let’s never let the attitude of Malachi 1:12 describe us—unsatisfied with the spiritual food God is serving. This Sabbath, expect the miracle!
Malachi 3:16 tells us that God’s Philadelphians “spake often one to another.” Our fellowship is merely an extension of our thoughts. To have good godly fellowship this Sabbath, we must plunge ourselves into God’s thoughts through daily study, prayer and meditation today, tomorrow and every day. When we open our mouths to speak before and after services, topics should center on God, His Work and His plan. We should avoid bringing the world into God’s Sabbath by talking at any length about mundane things like work, business, sports, etc. Don’t just let “How was your week?” automatically turn into a conversation about where to find a good mechanic. Instead, steer your conversation toward things that will uplift and excite you about God’s Word and His plan: world news and prophecy, what you have been studying in the Bible, recent Church publications, what you’ve learned about God this week, things you are grateful for, developments in God’s Work—on the physical and spiritual level. Remember, each of us must give an account for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36).
After leaving services
Following services, remember to strive for balance. Mr. Armstrong encouraged Sabbath-keepers to temper dining at restaurants with other activities, including serving the needs of others, calling the sick, visiting shut-ins, inviting brethren to your home, or taking a Sabbath walk to enjoy God’s creation.
When you keep the Sabbath as God intends, then, as you sense the evening sun edging toward the horizon this Sabbath, you will be at once reluctant to see it go, refreshed for a new week, and eagerly anticipating next Friday’s sunset—and the wonderful World Tomorrow and beyond (Ephesians 3:9).
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath,” God tells us in Isaiah 58:13, “from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight , the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words”—then you will rediscover an awesome truth each and every week: In many ways, God’s Kingdom is already here—in your home!
Keep this coming Sabbath day—like no other.