Lonely Port



"For He spake in a certain place of the Seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the Seventh day from all His works. .There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest. " Hebrews 4:4, 9-11.

The Sabbath rest is something special between you and your God. And if kept faithfully now, you will continue to worship Him on it through all eternity to come. He is faithful who hath promised. And the blessing you will realize by obeying His command to keep His Sabbath-will be yours through all time to come.

Keeping the Sabbath changes us. For so our heavenly Father intended it. "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the Seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. .for. .the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:9-10,11.

All through the first six days of the week, we work and rest; buy and sell. But the Seventh day is special. On that day we cease from our worldly cares and labors, that we may have more time to visit with God, to study His Word and pray, and to fellowship with like believers.

It is a day to live the Enoch life more fully. Enoch lived to draw closer to God, and to tell others how they might experience that closer walk also. And that is what we want, is it not? What is life for—if all we do is work seven days a week like the beasts and fish?

But our Father, knowing our deeper needs, says: "Come ye apart and rest."

We prepare for the Sabbath all week long. But the most preparation takes place just before it begins. In the Bible, Friday is called the "preparation day" (Matt 27:62; Mk 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:41, 31,42). The house is cleaned, and the cooking and baking for the Sabbath is completed. (Some mothers tidy their homes on Thursday afternoon, in order to simplify the Friday activities.)

Baths are taken, boots and shoes are polished, and the children's Sabbath clothes are laid out. All of Friday's work should be planned with reference to the Sabbath.

"Oh, Mama," said the little boy, as he helped her in the kitchen on Friday. "Someone special must be coming tomorrow." "Yes, my son," answered Mother, "We will be visiting with God."

The holy hours of the Sabbath begin and end at sunset. For it is at sunset that each day begins and ends, according to the Bible. We first learn this in the first chapter of Genesis, where we discover that each day of Creation Week began and ended at sunset (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, etc.). "From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbaths." Leviticus 23:32. The evening begins with the setting of the sun.

Late Friday afternoon, as sunset draws near, the family gathers together to sing hymns, to pray, and to read from His Inspired Word. The time of Sabbath evening worship has come. Also called Vespers, it is a time in which we receive far more than we give. The peace of the Sabbath is a blessing, known and felt all through its holy hours.

There will be those who find it necessary to worship God alone each Sabbath. This is unfortunate, but we realize that many things will not be perfect in this life. But God's wonderful tomorrow will be glorious indeed—when we enter the golden gates of heaven and rejoice in all that He has prepared for us. At that time every tear will be wiped away and the trials and perplexities of this earthly life will be seen to have been preparing us for the happier life above.

 In the winter months, Friday evening supper often comes after the sun sets. One family that we know, frequently eat the Friday evening meal by subdued lighting, for their children are thus reminded that the special hours of the Sabbath have begun.

Friday evening is also a good time to retire to sleep a little earlier than usual, so that all will be bright and fresh the next morning.

So much has been prepared the day before, that soon the family is ready to leave for Sabbath school, and the church service that follows it. A precious experience may be found in fellowship with like believers in the God of the Sabbath—the Creator God.

After the Church service, the dinner is quickly prepared. It was made the day before and now only a brief reheating is needed in order to be placed on the table. Often a little "Sabbath treat" has been made: something at the noon meal that the children will see as special.

And then comes the Sabbath afternoon. This can be a most interesting and happy part of the day.

Some ask, "What is there to do on the Sabbath?" Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

First, the Sabbath (including the Friday evening that began it) provides time to be with God. And those who love Him will be thankful for such an opportunity. Time to leave the cares of the workaday week and quietly commune with their Father in the study of His Written Word. And time to walk with Him out amid the scenes of nature.

Second, the Sabbath provides time to be with your family. Throughout the week, many children hardly see the face of their father. So many are the duties, the perplexities, the necessities. But God's hand is over the Sabbath. To the work of the week, He says, "Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther."

The Sabbath affords an opportunity for the father and mother to be with their children. It is a day to shut out the world and read God's Word together. There is time to read Bible stories and mission stories with the children, and to study the deeper truths of Scripture.

And the Sabbath provides time for the family to walk together out in nature, and find "nature nuggets"—-little discoveries in nature—to share with one another. The Sabbath began at Creation, and it is when we are out amid His created works that we can best return to the Garden of Eden experience.

The Sabbath is a day to visit shut-ins, the elderly, and those who would appreciate a visit filled with encouragement and words about Jesus. This is a day for heavenly things. Read to or with one another from Scripture or other spiritual books.

If there is no one in your family to share the Sabbath blessing with, then read and pray alone. And go out and visit with those who desire encouragement, Scripture reading, and prayer. And so many need it. Or, if you cannot easily leave the house, write a letter filled with encouragement, cheer and heavenly things to a loved one. Telling them about God's care for His children will rebound with renewed courage to your own heart.

Many years ago I knew a saint of God—an elderly lady—who was, herself, a shut-in. She was not only alone nearly all of the week, but she was alone most of the Sabbath also. But she sang her little songs of gladness, read in her Father's book, and tried to scatter sunshine on the paths of those around her.

But how can that be done—when one is a shut-in, alone most of the day in the house by himself? This humble Sabbathkeeper solved that problem: She wrote letters to encourage others. Who did she write to? Oh, there was always someone who needed a letter. —And frequently she would open the phone book at random and select a name she did not know—and write them a letter of encouragement!

This went on for years. Eventually Mrs. Bell died, and I, her pastor, preached her funeral sermon. She was deeply missed when she was gone. Many attended her funeral and they seemed to be crying for themselves more than for her.

Never imagine that you are all alone, or that you are not needed, or that you are in such a circumstance that you cannot help and encourage another. The world is filled with people who need your help. You are not a shut-in.

And if you are, now, or if you later may become one: Remember Mrs. Bell, and set to work. You have people to help. Your best days are just ahead.

Here are some more Sabbath pointers: Driving long distances in cars is a poor way to spend the Sabbath. Try not to keep yourself and your children within the four walls of meeting houses all through the Sabbath. And do not think your duty is done when you spend all Sabbath afternoon visiting with friends, while your children are outside running and playing. If you have children or youth in your home, center a big part of your Sabbath around them. Remember Jacob: "I will lead on softly, according as the. .children be able to endure." Genesis 33: 14. Find interesting Sabbath afternoon activities that you can do with your little ones, and those in your home who are older.

Do not use the Sabbath hours to plan, discuss or carry out weekly activities. There will be time enough for the six working days—and its many cares—in a few hours. Must you return to it prematurely? Follow God's plan for your life, and you will always be happier.

Acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with the intent of the Sabbath. And there are necessary things that must be done during its hours; we do not crawl into a cocoon and stay there until it is past. "The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27. God tests people on how they keep the Sabbath, for there are so many ways in which we can keep it better—or worse.

Sabbath is not for business transactions—or for planning them. And it is not for regular school studies or attendance. We should not converse on common or worldly topics during its holy hours. Do not crowd into the Sabbath the work that could be done earlier. If your own work could not be done before Sabbath began; then wait till the Sabbath is past to do it. Whether it be harvest time or any other time: Give God the special time He asks of you. Give Him the Sabbath hours, and He will give you a lot more than that in return.

Be especially careful to guard the edges of the Sabbath- those hours that usher it in and that mark its departure. Many are lax at such times. Friday Evening vespers opened the Sabbath, and now, as the Sabbath draws near its end, another vesper service (evening worship) concludes it. Like a beloved friend it departs, but we are thankful that within a week it will be back again.

At this point, it would be well to mention Saturday evening: Many err in so centering their. Sabbath afternoon thoughts on the recreation of Saturday night, that they really lose much of the Sabbath blessing. Not only the edges, but the middle of the Sabbath needs to be guarded. And, of course, we should avoid Saturday night activities that require preparations on the Sabbath itself.

Many wonder what to do with their young people on Saturday night, after the Sabbath is past. I recall one place we lived, in which there were four or five Sabbath keeping families with teenage youth. What to do with them on Saturday night? They solved the problem beautifully: They gathered together in one home, finished the supper off with popcorn, and then, standing by the piano, they sang Christian songs together. Time to sing and time to talk, and they never tired of it.

And so we have come to the end of a Sabbath with God. "You have given one day out of seven to Him. Now you will have additional strength to meet the stern duties of life and the harassments of Satan, to be contended with in the coming days. But you can know that in just a few more, and It will be another strengthening Sabbath.

The idea that we should keep the seventh-day Sabbath was His plan. Never forget that. And in spite of all that the devil can do to disrupt our efforts to obey God, we must cling to God's plans—all of them—as the best for our lives. Don't let Satan steal your crown. Cling to God and to His precious Sabbath, more than to any earthly treasure or companion,-and you will be safe throughout the coming years—and the eternity of years that will follow it.

If you would like, I can send you more information on living a life close to God. And tell me that it was because you were reading this book that you wrote. May our heavenly Father bless and keep you in the days ahead. -Vance Ferrell