March 1, 2010

A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 11



Monte Holland

This is the eleventh in a series of daily Lenten devotionals called “Scriptural Lessons Leading to a Godly and Moral Life.” To start the study, click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Introduction or

To view the previous A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 10

Today’s photographs feature Rector United Methodist Church in Rector, PA. To view, click on:


The Fourth Commandment: 8Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. 9You have six days when you can do your work, 10but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day–not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. 11In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me. Exodus 20:8-11

    In the society that I grew up in people worked six days a week—some of them worked for eight hours a day and others worked from sun-up to sun-down. Much more work was manual labor in those days.

     After six days of working this much, Sunday (the Sabbath for Christians) was a welcome day for rest and a change of pace from strenuous labor. Aside from the absolutely necessary tasks such as milking the cows, Sundays were set aside for church and relaxation. There was a strong tendency to not only rest from work, but to refrain from a lot of activities as an honor to God, who rested on the seventh day in the Creation story.

     Over time, things have changed. Many people still worship on Sunday (or Saturday evening.) Even though we now have a shorter work week, people’s “to-do” lists seem pretty long on Sunday. The old-fashioned Sabbath rest seems to be a thing of the past.

     In the past, only industries that needed to operate 24-7 kept going on Sundays. In my lifetime, the Blue Laws that kept stores from opening on Sundays have been repealed. Now many of them operate 24-7. Things have changed so much that a store in Uniontown (PA) was challenged by a worker who said that she doesn’t believe she should have to work on Sundays is suing the store for firing her.

     What is our attitude toward the Sabbath? As we read the Fourth Commandment how will we live it out in this modern day, a time that makes little distinction between Sunday and the other days of the week? Will we find ways to keep the Sabbath holy?

     A January 13, 2009 Upper Room devotional writer from Columbia offered this thought for the day:

Sabbath rest is not just a good idea; it is a commandment.

(Note: the Upper Room is a bi-monthly devotional magazine with daily inspirational readings based on selected Bible readings. I read it daily on-line at .)

Changes in Sunday over my lifetime:

               Child (1940’s and 1950’s)     young adult                today

AM            Sunday school                    Sunday school     Sunday school

                   Church                               Church                 Church

                   Very few stores open         Few stores open   Stores open

                    No games                          No games             Recreational games

                    Religious media                mixed media         news, pre-game

                    Essential work                   more work            all kinds of work

PM              Family meals                     more eating out     whatever

                    Family gathering               less family             whatever

                    Radio of Pro sports            radio, TV of          TV of Pro and

                                                               Pro sports              college sports

                    Only Pro sports                 only Pro sports       Sports- all levels

Evening       Evening church                 Evening church      less church

                     Radio programs                Ed Sullivan Show   whatever

                     Stay at home                     Stay at home           whatever


(This is God’s Fourth Commandment for us.)



Exercise 1. One important change is the invasion of Sunday morning by non-church activities. What things are you expected to do on Sunday morning that keep you from rest and focusing more closely on God?

Exercise 2. Another change is making Saturday evening an optional time for worship. Do you feel comfortable with that? Does this violate the spirit of the Sabbath law?

Exercise 3: Do Sunday afternoon and evening collegiate and professional sports hinder or support Sabbath rest? Can you make a case on both sides of the argument?

Exercise 4: I have run into people that have reserved much of Sunday morning for weekly news- interview programs on television networks. Have these or television talk shows or youth-oriented and cartoon television programs diverted you from the true spirit of the Sabbath?

Exercise 5: Then he (Jesus) said to them, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28

     You might want to read a little further in Mark 2 to get the idea of what Jesus means here. Jesus gives us a key insight into the purpose of God’s laws in our lives. The question is, “Are you receiving the benefit from the Sabbath that God intends for you?”

     Reflect on Mark 2:28 and write down your comments.

Continue on to the next lesson on A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE: 12 by clicking on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 12


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Monte and I welcome any comments you might have on the Lenten posts. Use the COMMENT box below to respond. For details on the COMMENT CONTEST click on:










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